CA-based Volansi, Inc. is continuing to push the boundaries of drone delivery in North Carolina. Volansi’s newest project demonstrates the value of drone delivery in healthcare supply chain applications, delivering cold chain medicines in rural North Carolina.
Cold chain medicines are those that require temperature control: medicines like some vaccines, glaucoma eye drops, and insulin for diabetes treatment. Helping rural communities get access to these medicines is a challenge for providers: and at a time when the entire world is waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine which could be temperature sensitive, proving the case for drone delivery in healthcare supply is especially important.
Volansi is emerging as a major player in drone delivery. Volansi is engaged in drone delivery in healthcare; mid-range drone delivery for commercial applications; work for the Department of Defense, and more. The additional $50 million in funding that Volansi announced last week should mean even more projects are in the works.
“In collaboration with Merck, known as MSD outside the U.S. and Canada, Volansi is piloting the delivery of cold chain medicines from Merck’s Wilson, N.C. manufacturing site to Vidant Healthplex-Wilson, a Vidant Health clinic, as the first of three phases in a project to learn about drone technology’s role and ability to improve access to healthcare,” says a press release.
The projects first flights were successful – and were the first drone delivery of temperature-controlled medicines within the U.S.
“We’ve seen the world’s supply chain strained like never before from the impact of Coronavirus,” said Hannan Parvizian, CEO and Co-Founder of Volansi. “There’s now an accelerated need for rapid advancements in supply chain technology, especially in healthcare. Drone delivery is one solution to getting critical supplies where they are needed, at the moment they are needed most.”
Here’s how it works (video below):
The project utilizes Volansi’s VOLY C10, an all-electric drone capable of carrying 10-pounds of cargo to locations up to 50 miles away. The VOLY C10’s vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) system allows it to deliver fragile cargo with a “soft touch” automated release once the drone has landed at the delivery location. The VTOL system also requires minimal infrastructure to operate and is also capable of delivering on the returning flight items to support order confirmation like temperature trackers and shipping confirmation.
“As a healthcare leader, Merck is very supportive of collaborations using new technologies to explore how one day we could help better serve the healthcare community. Our existing distribution system is strong, and this pilot helps us explore new innovative delivery options that would complement our existing supply chain capabilities,” said Craig Kennedy, Senior Vice President, Global Supply Chain Management, Merck.
“At Vidant Health, innovation and collaboration help us increase access to care and meet our mission to improve health and well-being across eastern North Carolina,” said Brian Floyd, Chief Operating Officer, Vidant. “This project with Merck and Volansi is the beginning of an exciting endeavor to explore additional ways we can meet the unique needs of those we serve.”
Volansi’s project is part of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program (IPP), partnered with the North Carolina Department of Transportation. “Volansi will seek additional approval from the FAA to provide deliveries in additional locations, for phases two and three of the project, enabling a flexible, on-demand, and responsive supply of critical medicines,” says the release.
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