Delivery of medicine by autonomous drones can significantly reduce the time it takes to reach a patient in need and help to address logistical and infrastructure barriers that prevent access to high-quality preventative care, especially in hard to reach rural areas. Volansi, a commercial drone delivery company, and Merck, a large pharmaceutical company, are working together to expand access to medical care and enable the delivery of routine medicines by drones in the US.
Having previously collaborated on delivering temperature-sensitive medicines in the Bahamas and Puerto Rico after the devastation of hurricanes Maria and Florence, Volansi and Merck started a three-phase project to learn more about drone technology’s role and ability to improve access to healthcare in North Carolina. As the project’s first phase and the first drone delivery of temperature-controlled medicines within the U.S., Volansi is flying its VOLY C10 drone transporting cold chain medicines from Merck’s Wilson, N.C. manufacturing site to Vidant Healthplex-Wilson, a Vidant Health clinic.
"We've seen the world's supply chain strained like never before from the impact of Coronavirus," said Hannan Parvizian, CEO and Co-Founder of Volansi. "There’s now an accelerated need for rapid advancements in supply chain technology, especially in healthcare. Drone delivery is one solution to getting critical supplies where they are needed, at the moment they are needed most."
Designed from the ground-up to perform reliable deliveries every time, the VOLY C10 is an all-electric drone, capable of carrying 10-pounds of cargo to locations up to 50 miles away. With a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) system, the C10 can deliver fragile cargo with a “soft touch” automated release once the drone has landed at the delivery location. Earlier this year, the Northern Plains UAS Test Site selected Volansi’s drone for Site Acceptance Testing and use-case development.
After raising $50M in a Series B round last month, Volansi reached a total of $75M, which should help the company to expand its team, launch new projects (like this one) and scale current initiatives in both emerging markets and the US.
“With the support of our Series A partners, we developed and brought to market first-of-their-kind autonomous drones and launched select customer projects around the world – changing the face of the VTOL UAV market as we know it,” Parvizian wrote. “The Series B financing allows Volansi to build on this momentum.”
Together with the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program and the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Volansi ensures drone deliveries are made safely and per state and federal guidelines. For the next phases, the company wants to provide deliveries in additional locations to enable a flexible, on-demand, and responsive supply of critical medicines.