Pioneering medical drone program takes off in North Carolina

Pioneering medical drone program takes off in North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A pioneering use of drones to fly blood samples across a North Carolina hospital campus has launched in the latest move to expand their roles in business and health care.

The short trips between medical buildings announced Tuesday mark the first time the Federal Aviation Administration has allowed regular commercial flights of drones carrying products. That's according to UPS and drone company Matternet, which partnered with Raleigh's WakeMed on the program.

Matternet CEO Andreas Raptopoulos says the WakeMed program will start by flying patients' medical samples from a clinic to a separate lab for testing at least six times a day five days a week.

Experts say medical deliveries by drones are in their early stages and it could be some time before they’re widely rolled out.