By Tim Ryan

StartWheel, as an advocate for entrepreneurship in Hampton Roads, Virginia, is delighted to share the latest about DroneUp, a leading autonomous drone delivery provider in our region. Collaborating with the not-for-profit healthcare organization Carilion Clinic, they are exploring the potential use of drones to revolutionize healthcare delivery.

This collaboration seeks to investigate how drone technology can be used to better serve the medical needs of communities in Virginia and, potentially, the entire nation. Their ongoing proof-of-concept study is assessing whether drones could effectively deliver crucial medical supplies. With a three-week trial that commenced on June 9, 2023, the focus is on how drones can cut delivery times and costs, enabling healthcare providers to invest more time in patient care.

Starting in Roanoke, the study holds potential for far-reaching applications. Carilion’s Paul Davenport expressed the organization’s curiosity about drones delivering directly to patients who lack transportation or reside in remote locations. The question stands: could drones remove barriers to care?

DroneUp’s drones, approximately five feet in diameter, operate at around 200 feet in elevation and can carry up to 10 pounds of deliveries. They run within a visual line of sight between designated spots, with a livestream camera feed for pilots to monitor the journey and ensure safe delivery. However, they do not record any video.

“Drones offer a faster way to deliver medicine and medical supplies,” said DroneUp’s Greg James. “Our mission is to leverage innovation to support consumers through drone delivery. Partnering with Carilion, we’re determined to positively impact patient care by rapidly and efficiently delivering vital medical supplies.”

A testament to their innovative spirit, Carilion Clinic was recognized by Fortune as one of “America’s Most Innovative Companies” in 2023. The organization has been at the forefront of healthcare delivery, having introduced the first air ambulance service in Virginia in 1983.

DroneUp, founded in 2016 and headquartered in Virginia Beach, is a trusted name in drone technology, offering comprehensive drone services. Their expertise encompasses airspace solutions, software applications, analytics platforms, and a team of industry leaders, making drone integration easy and efficient for businesses. They already provide drone delivery services in 34 locations across six states for the world’s leading retailer, Walmart, Inc.

This pioneering effort by DroneUp and Carilion Clinic is an exciting example of the innovative entrepreneurial spirit StartWheel seeks to celebrate. By exploring the transformative power of drone technology in healthcare, these organizations are reshaping the future of medical delivery and patient care.