North Carolina Department of Transportation—Drones: North Carolina’s Future of Healthcare Logistics

In March 2019, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) embarked on an innovative project to ensure that diagnostic tests, specimens, and other critical lab results get to medical professionals faster. Using drones for medical deliveries not only improves transportation but reduces the impact on the environment – cutting the need for gasoline and eliminating congestion on the road. The technology also provides rural communities with access to medical services or supplies that may not be regularly available due to longer trips to the hospital. This $2 million project was a cooperative effort between NCDOT, the Federal Aviation Administration, delivery and drone companies, and area hospitals and was part of NCDOT’s three-year participation in the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program. Currently, NCDOT is using the technology to develop projects to aid in the fight against COVID-19 – ensuring the community has the services and supplies when they need them most.