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Covid-19: NCDOT employs drones to help relief efforts

According to newsobserver.com, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) said this week that, starting in May, a public-private partnership will use drones to deliver critical medical supplies and food during the pandemic.

Charlotte is among sites for the project. Zipline and Novant Health will deliver personal protective equipment and other medical equipment across Novant’s medical campuses, the department said.

“Novant Health and Zipline are working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on options to pursue emergency operations in response to the pandemic,” Novant PR director Megan Rivers said. “The timing of the operation is dependent upon receiving the necessary regulatory approvals.”

The department’s Division of Aviation and its partners will host an online forum from 1 to 3 p.m. this Friday on the initiative.

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

In Raleigh and Garner, WakeMed, UPS and Matternet plan to use a drone to deliver non-COVID-19-related supplies and equipment between WakeMed’s main hospital in Raleigh and the WakeMed Garner Healthplex. In Holly Springs, Flytrex will deliver food from restaurants in a shopping centre to nearby neighbourhoods.

Officials will use data collected to help learn how drone technology can be used in other areas of the country. Funding for the individual drone missions will come from the private partners, while NCDOT coordinates the project.

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