Tech company works to get its drones to health care providers fighting pandemic

Posted at 2:29 PM, Apr 02, 2020

Tech companies are working to fight this pandemic with innovation. One in California hopes its drone delivery system will get more people tested and the results back faster.

"I think our response to the epidemic really depends on our ability to diagnose fast and diagnose accurately, and diagnose very frequently, a big section of the population," said Andreas Raptopoulos, founder of the Silicon Valley company Matternet .

Matternet's products enable organizations around the world to build and operate drone logistics networks for transporting goods on demand.

The company has worked with healthcare systems around the world for three years now, including two hospitals in the United States.

In partnership with UPS, their drones are equipped with GPS technology to transport blood tests, medicine, and other specimens between facilities. Drones can do it much faster than vehicles on the ground, slashing result wait times.

"We think that needs to be infrastructure that exists within our healthcare systems in our cities," said Raptopoulos.

The company is in talks with the FAA and regional authorities to get their drones in the hands of more healthcare systems to help transport COVID-19 test kits.

"The second use case is what people now call contact-less delivery. If you want to deliver prescription medicine to an elderly community, it's much better you don't send a driver there, or a truck there," said Raptopolos.

During the Ebola crisis, some couriers refused to transport specimens; Raptopoulos says autonomous delivery helps eliminates this problem.

"My feeling is we see some operations starting in the month of April. Does seem pandemic will get worse before it gets better," he said.

In the future, they'll deploy their new Matternet Stations to healthcare systems. It eliminates the need for someone on the ground to monitor takeoff and landing.

"Matternet is hopefully going to help in this pandemic, and will absolutely be essential in how we deal with pandemics in the future," said Raptoplos.