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NCDOT initiative use drones for COVID-19 relief efforts

Photo: Shutter2U/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Photo: Shutter2U/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is working with public and private partners to launch three projects using drones to aid in COVID-19 relief efforts. According to NCDOT, the initiative will be launched in May.

For the first project, Novant Health and Zipline are proposing to deliver personal protective equipment and other medical equipment across Novant Health’s medical campuses in the Charlotte area.

For the second project, UPS Flight Forward and Matternet are proposing to work with a Winston-Salem hospital on an operation to use drones to take healthcare equipment, medicine and personal protective equipment to medical providers. UPS Flight Forward, which earned the necessary federal certifications to operate a drone airline, has an ongoing drone delivery service at WakeMed’s main campus in Raleigh, NCDOT said.

Finally, for the third project, Flytrex is proposing to deliver food from multiple restaurants in a shopping center to neighborhoods in the Holly Springs area.

The first two programs are aimed at reducing the strain on medical supply chains, and the third will make it easier for people to follow the stay-at-home order. According to NCDOT, officials will use data collected during the project to determine how this technology can be used in other areas of the country.

“North Carolina has been a leader in demonstrating how drones can help people in times of crisis,” said State Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette. “We look forward to putting this technology into productive use as we work to help citizens and medical professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Funding for the individual drone missions is coming from private partners, while NCODT is coordinating the initiative.

Read more of GPS World‘s coronavirus coverage here.

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