Airspace Link has been delivering COVID-19 test kits from hospitals to a lab to speed up testing turnaround times since mid-January. The company has been working with DroneUp and the University of New York (SUNY) to make it happen.
The drone delivery tests saw COVID-19 tests being placed in a drone at the New York (SUNY) Upstate University Medical Hospital and flown to a biotech lab in Virginia where the tests are completed.
During the testing, the company found that the drones can reach the lab in just three minutes, with the total trip taking around eight minutes to complete, much faster than delivering by ground.
As the drones are flying during the day and over people and buildings, it requires a special waiver from the FAA, which also means safety systems on the drone need to be redundant in the case of something going wrong.
Lisa Peterson, vice president of business development for Airspace Link, shared:
SUNY Upstate University Medical Hospital is at the tip of the spear in terms of showing the benefits of these new drone technologies for improving medical treatment for the citizens of Syracuse as well as the broader healthcare industry as a whole.
The deliveries have been done with a modified DJI Inspire 2. The drone has what looks to be a parachute system for compliance reasons and a long rope that holds the test below it. The tests are then dropped off at the lab, where the drone hovers above for a few seconds before flying off again.
Michael Healander, CEO of Airspace Link, followed with:
We are looking forward to our continued work with the city of Syracuse to help them put in the proper foundation to support the fast adoption of drone technologies by businesses and recreational users, which is driving more drone traffic in the local airspace. Our solution empowers the city with the data-driven insights, planning tools, and digital infrastructure that will help the COVID-19 test kit drone delivery services and future drone operations safely scale.
As the drones have been successful, the company will continue to work with Syracuse to deliver COVID-19 tests. There is also the possibility that it will soon increase its reach and offer the program in other regions around the United States.
Drones and COVID-19
Drones have been present throughout the global pandemic, with some saying that this demonstrates how truly useful they are. Recently, the University of California San Diego (UCSD) developed a disinfecting drone with UV-C lights. Many countries are using drones to disinfect public areas, along with monitoring busy areas to ensure people are following social distancing rules.
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Photo: Airspace Link