— Drone technology supports rapid and flexible delivery of temperature-sensitive medicines expanding access to medical care
— Volansi’s drone system to enable the delivery of routine medicines from Merck manufacturing facility to patients at Vidant Healthplex-Wilson as the first phase of a project to learn about drone technology’s use in the healthcare supply chain
SAN FRANCISCO – Volansi, Inc., the leader in vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), middle-mile drone delivery services, announces it has begun a commercial healthcare drone delivery project in North Carolina.
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.
With 1.4 million people across 29 counties, eastern North Carolina’s vast, rural environment can create challenges for accessing care. Initial flights in the project resulted in 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.”
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 is collaborating with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program and the North Carolina Department of Transportation to ensure that its deliveries are made safely and in accordance with state and federal guidelines.
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.
Volansi provides fast, on-demand aerial delivery services for time-critical shipments over long ranges. We build and operate long-range, heavy-payload drones for commercial, defense, and humanitarian applications. Leveraging drone technology as a transportation method, we help our customers gain control of their supply chain by delivering critical equipment (and aid) where it otherwise faced unpredictable delays – helping to save time, money, and lives. To learn more, visit volansi.com or follow us on Twitter (twitter.com/volans_i).
About Vidant Health
Vidant Health is a mission-driven, 1,708-bed health system that annually serves more than 1.4 million people in 29 eastern North Carolina counties. The not-for-profit system is made up of more than 13,000 employees, nine hospitals, home health, hospice, wellness centers, and Vidant Medical Group, a multi-specialty physician and provider group with more than 500 providers in more than 90 locations in eastern North Carolina. Vidant is affiliated with The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. As a major resource for health services and education, Vidant has a mission to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina. For more information, visit vidanthealth.com.