Drones have already displayed how relevant they can be in delivering vital shipments of blood across Rwanda, drop off prescriptions to senior citizens in Florida, and help to quarantine families stay safe with contactless deliveries. Now they’re going to be flying through the skies of rural North Carolina thanks to a novel delivery service devised by drug-maker Merck and drone-maker Volans.
The plan is straightforward: use Volansi’s 7-foot long “Gemini” quadcopter to ferry packages of cold chain medicines – such as vaccines, glaucoma treatments, insulin, and asthma inhalers — from Merck’s Wilson, NC drug lab to the nine regional hospitals that make up Vidant Healthplex-Wilson. This medical network serves more than 1.4 million people across 29 countries in eastern North Carolina.
“We’ve seen the world’s supply chain strained like never before from the impact of Coronavirus,” said Hannan Parvizian, CEO of Volansi, said in a press statement. “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 Gamini drones are VTOL aircraft with a maximum range of 50 miles and a maximum airspeed of 60 mph. They can host up to 10 pounds at a time using their quartet of electric propellers. The delivery process is largely autonomous as the Gemini are capable enough to automatically release their hold on packages the moment they land in the designated landing zone.