The Technology Supporting the UPS Medical Delivery Program

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The UPS Part 135 Certification made big news last month, as the delivery compnay announced that it was now certified by the FAA to scale their drone delivery program beyond their trial sites in North Carolina.  It was another big step for the drone industry, indicating that drone delivery in some form at least was ready to meet the public in the U.S.

The UPS expertise in developer logistics – as well as their name, size and history – were certainly major considerations in the FAA certification.  Equally critical, however, was the technology that supports the program – Matternet‘s M2 system.  Matternet is not a newcomer to the drone industry: the company has been a pioneer of drone delivery for years.  They first formed a partnership with the Swiss postal service back in 2015.  They began medical delivery in Switzerland in 2017.  The M2 platform – the drone and the payload box, specially designed to carry fragile payloads, the landing and docking mechanism, and all of the supporting technologies – provide a ground-breaking example of how drone delivery can work, meeting the needs of both customers and regulators.

“The Matternet M2 system is capable of transporting packages of up to 5 lbs across distances of up to 12.5 miles in operations beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and over people,” says the company.  It’s a complex and complete system, which deals with all aspects of the delivery: from securing the samples, dealing with the logistics of keeping track of packages, changing batteries, to delivery and receipt.

“We founded Matternet with the belief that we must create a new layer of transportation, using networks of drones for delivering urgent items on-demand at a fraction of the time, cost and ecological footprint of any other transportation method,” said Matternet CEO Andreas Raptopoulos in a press release. “Our technology has the power to transform healthcare and the world of logistics at large.”


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