Drones to fly medical supplies in Kansas for pilot project

Better Health & Wellness

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) — Within a matter of months, drones may be delivering medical items to and from the hospital in Hutchinson.

Air Methods, an air medical service provider, has launched Spright, a drone program designed to help with supply challenges in the healthcare industry. Spright is kicking off the project by partnering with Hutchinson Regional Medical Center (HRMC) and using Wingcopter delivery drones.

But before the drones can actually carry medical supplies, medicines, or lab samples, they will be put through feasibility flights from the hospital.

Chuck Welch, chief business development officer at HRMC, says the drones will need to demonstrate that they can operate completely unmanned using GPS and cell towers. He says Hutchinson was chosen for this pilot project because of the wide, open space around the town.

Welch says the items will start small, such as a piece of paper, but once the program is up and running, the drones will be able to carry approximately 13 pounds of items.

The drone that will be used, the Wingcopter 198, can travel 68 miles on a single battery charge and at a speed up to 89 miles an hour, depending on conditions.

If all goes well, Spright plans to get a fleet of 100 of the drones to deploy across the U.S. It says hospitals will not need specialized landing pads and will fly low enough that they do not interfere with planes and helicopters.

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