Drone technology has advanced rapidly in recent years, but advocates are still looking to get the most out of unmanned aircraft when it comes to delivering cargo.
This image became a little clearer last month when a developer of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) from Minnesota successfully used a drone to transport a human pancreas, generating real-time location data on the precious cargo throughout its journey.
The test flight was performed by a Minneapolis-based UAS developer MissionGO in conjunction with LifeSource, an organ procurement organization serving the Upper Midwest, and Mercy Hospital, a healthcare facility located in the Minneapolis suburb of Coon Rapids. MissionGO followed the delivery with its MediGO hardware and software platform, as the plane took off from the hospital, circled 10 miles over the Mississippi River, and then returned to its starting point. Biopsies performed by LifeSource of the pancreas before and after the flight showed that the UAS trip had no negative effect on the organ, the partners said.
The flight followed similar tests in which MissionGO’s UAS vehicles transported a kidney for transplantation and corneas for research, demonstrating that rapid airlift can help transplant groups deliver organs on time to save lives. , according to the company.
As for the sequel, MissionGO reports that recent regulatory changes have positioned it to begin practicing organ delivery in more real-life cases, both from the donor to the transplant hospital and from the donor in Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for transportation to other parts of the country.