Matternet Station Enabled Medical Drone Delivery in Switzerland
Drone logistics startup Matternet is taking flight with one of Asia's largest airlines to expand drone delivery.
Today, the California-based company announced a partnership with Japan Airlines to deploy the Matternet M2 drone system to Tokyo Metropolitan Government's new "drone logistics business development project" – Japan's initiative to grow drone delivery on a national scale.
Under the deal, JAL will acquire flight experience using Matternet's urban drone delivery platform, working with the startup to develop a UAV-based business model.
"We are very excited to expand our operations to Asia and partner with JAL to show the incredible impact of drone delivery to Japan's cities, starting with the Tokyo metropolitan area," Matternet CEO Andreas Raptopoulos said.
"Matternet's drone delivery platform enables extremely fast and predictable transport of urgent items and stands to revolutionize how healthcare and e-commerce are delivered in cities and megacities around the world."
The partners will launch the M2 drone system to deliver prescription pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and blood units in simulated emergency response and disaster relief scenarios. Drones will fly a BVLOS route over Tokyo, transporting items from Mediceo Corp's East Tokyo warehouse to St. Luke's International Hospital.
"Japan Airlines is eager to explore the future of its air logistics business with the implementation of drone delivery," said Tomohiro Nishihata, Japan Airlines' Managing Executive Officer of Innovation. "We aim to contribute to improving healthcare and solving logistics issues through our partnership with Matternet."
For Matternet, the new partnership builds on three years of developing drone delivery projects with major corporations. Last year, an M2 drone completed the first-ever American commercial drone delivery of a prescription to a customer's home in Cary, N.C. – a corporate collaboration with UPS Flight Forward and CVS.
Earlier this year, the company piloted a similar delivery, transporting prescriptions to the homes of CVS customers in a Florida retirement community. In 2018, Swiss Post partnered with Matternet to ferry lab samples between Swiss hospitals.
Drone Sector Steps Up
With the continued spread of COVID-19, the drone industry is ramping up delivery programs to transport essential medical supplies.
Last week, retail giant Wal-Mart announced a drone delivery initiative with Zipline to trial flights in Northwest Arkansas. Drone Delivery Canada and the Georgina Island First Nation partnered in August to transport COVID-19 related cargo such as personal protection equipment, hygiene kits, test kits and test swabs to a remote Ontario community.