Drone makes medical deliveries at UC San Diego

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UC San Diego will launch a pilot project to transport medical samples, supplies and documents using drones.

In partnership with UPS and Matternet, the drones will fly between the Jacobs Medical Center, the Moores Cancer Center and the Center for Advanced Laboratory Medicine (CALM).

Medical professionals at Jacobs, on the east health campus in La Jolla, pack payloads such as blood samples or documents into a secure container that attaches to one of Matternet’s M2 rechargeable battery-powered drones.

The drones will follow a predetermined, low-risk flight path initially between Jacobs and special landing sites at Moores, less than a mile away, and then on to CALM. The flights will take only minutes to complete and will be monitored by remote operators.

Medical samples are normally carried by courier cars within designated hours, leaving them vulnerable to traffic issues such as congestion or accidents.

Matthew Jenusaitis, chief administrative officer for innovation and transformation at UC San Diego Health, said, “With drones we want to demonstrate proof of concept for getting vital samples where they need to be for testing or assessment more quickly and simply. It’s another way to leverage emerging technologies in a way that can tangibly benefit our patients.”

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