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Matternet CEO Andreas Raptopoulos walks next to an operator carrying a drone used to deliver medical specimens after a flight in March at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, N.C. Jonathan Drew/AP hide caption
Matternet CEO Andreas Raptopoulos walks next to an operator carrying a drone used to deliver medical specimens after a flight in March at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, N.C.
Sounding like a huge swarm of angry bees or maybe a hedge trimmer on steroids, a small quadcopter lifts up off of a landing pad in front of the main hospital building on the WakeMed campus in Raleigh, N.C. Underneath it is a metal box — smaller than a shoebox — with vials of blood samples inside of it that are now heading across the campus to the lab for analysis, guided by a drone operator on the ground.
"This facility happens to be across a very busy road from our main campus hospital," says Stuart Ginn, an ENT surgeon and medical director of innovations at WakeMed. But when taken by carrier on foot or by car, he says "the logistics of getting those samples across often resulted in about a 45-minute time of delivery."
"We've seen that drop to about 10 minutes, and that's really door to door," Ginn says. "The actual flight time one way is about three minutes because it's not a long route."
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