Medical drone test flights start in North Carolina, could be used to deliver COVID-19 vaccines


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – A California based company is using drone test flights to transport and deliver medicine and vaccines in rural areas of North Carolina. The test flights are the first step towards having an all drone-based delivery system for vaccines, medicine and other hospital supplies.

The drones being used to deliver medicine aren’t the ones you find at the hobby shop. Volansi, the California based drone provider, uses these larger drones which combine helicopter and plane like capabilities.

The flights are mostly done without someone at the controls. The goal is to land and take off without the need for infrastructure.

Test flights started in October in Wilson, North Carolina by delivering medical supplies from manufacture directly to a hospital system.

“It’s much faster than a day. We are talking minutes or hours,” said Hannan Parvizian, co-founder and CEO of Volansi.

The quicker delivery is because Volansi leaders say their drones cut out the logistics middle man. Test flights took off just before the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“What was unique about that trial and the mission that we started out was we were doing very temperature-sensitive vaccines in a box that could maintain the temperature at -70 degrees Celsius,” said Parvizian.

Those cold temperatures are also what COVID-19 vaccines need to be stored at. Right now, drones aren’t being used to deliver the vaccines, but plans are in the works. “We have already signaled our readiness to multiple pharmaceutical companies that are working on different COVID vaccines and we are ready to deploy wherever they need us to help out,” said Parvizian.

Volansi first started using drones for medical and supply use in 2018 during hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico. The drones were again deployed in 2019 for hurricane recovery in the Bahamas. Drone flights started in the United States in 2020 during the early stages of COVID-19.


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