Stanford Medical Center Seeks FAA Approval for Blood Delivery by Drone

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Stanford Medical Center (Stanford) is pursuing a new concept in the health care world—blood delivery to hospitals by drones. Currently, Stanford is seeking the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) approval for this type of delivery, which it hopes to receive, since Stanford believes such delivery will help to save lives. Regardless of the traffic on the roadways, a drone can make a 2.5 mile flight from Stanford Blood Center to the medical center in less than five minutes, and for critical patients with a critical need for blood, that five minute drone flight might be the difference between living and dying. The blood center has partnered with drone manufacturer, Matternet and the City of Palo Alto to ask for permission from the FAA to launch a pilot program. Matternet Founder and CEO, Andreas Raptopoulos, said, “The two key things that you have to prove to the FAA is that you’re not going to harm people on the ground or increase the risk of other people using the airspace.” Matternet has also designed this delivery drone with a parachute that will eject if the drone fails in any way which would prevent it from hurtling to the ground and limit the chance of injury to people below. Both Matternet and Stanford see a future where most hospitals are connected by a network of drones that can deliver life-saving supplies in record time.

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