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UPS using drones to zip medical samples around North Carolina

Drone deliveries avoid road delays, increase efficiency and lower costs.

UPS and Matternet are going to deliver medical samples via drones in North Carolina.

Drones are delivering medical specimens around North Carolina.

UPS on Tuesday said it'll collaborate with Matternet to deliver medical samples via autonomous drones around Raleigh, North Carolina. The program, which includes several planned daily flights, takes place at WakeMed's flagship hospital and campus,

"[The program] represents a major milestone for unmanned aviation in the US," UPS wrote in a release. "The addition of drone transport provides an option for on-demand and same-day delivery, the ability to avoid roadway delays, increase medical delivery efficiency, lower costs and improve the patient experience with potentially life-saving benefits."

The Federal Aviation Administration and the North Carolina Department of Transportation will oversee the program. Flights will utilize Matternet's M2 quadcopter, which is powered by rechargeable lithium-ion battery and can carry objects up to 5 pounds and fly up to 12.5 miles.

UPS and Matternet's drone program isn't the first one to deliver medical needs. Startup Zipline has been delivering blood from a drone launch base to hospitals in Rwanda. The company in April tested its drones in California.

Amazon, Google, Walmart and others are also experimenting with delivery drones, though they may not be in the business of delivering medical samples.

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