Cardinal Health and Zipline Team Up to Deliver Medicine Via Drones

Cardinal Health Tests Delivery Drones

Cardinal Health (CAH) is testing drones as a way to deliver medicine to participating pharmacies. The healthcare supplies distributor is betting that delivery drones can reduce the time it takes to get medicine and supplies to pharmacies. With drones, Cardinal Health can bypass traffic delays and other challenges that come with traditional transportation. The company hopes that in the future, drones could be used to get medicine to remote areas or to deliver time-sensitive treatments.

The company is joining a growing list of businesses which are testing drones for shipments of medical supplies. Merck (MRK), Walmart (WMT), and United Parcel Service (UPS) are among the other companies exploring this strategy.

Drone Delivery in 30 Minutes or Less

Cardinal Health is teaming up with Zipline to test delivery drones outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. The two companies still need approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, but they plan to begin tests next year. The aerial drones will be about six feet in length and will look similar to tiny planes.

To start out, the drones will carry four pounds of supplies for about 10 miles from a Zipline distribution center to pharmacies in the area. Deliveries will take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. The drones will hover 300 to 400 feet above the ground as they travel to participating pharmacies, dropping packages via parachutes into designated landing zones. Cardinal Health has not yet said which pharmacies are part of the pilot.

Zipline’s Past Experiences

Zipline has already made a name for itself in the drone delivery market, transporting drugs, medical supplies, blood, and vaccines to locations in Rwanda and Ghana. The company has also inked deals with Walmart and Salt Lake City’s Intermountain Healthcare. Zipline’s drones can travel as far as 50 miles one way.

Transporting goods in trucks and on planes can get costly, particularly amid the current supply-chain difficulties. Cardinal Health and a growing list of other companies are trying to find new solutions, like drones.

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ABOUT Meg Richardson Meg Richardson is a writer specializing in markets, technology, and personal finance. She loves breaking down seemingly complex ideas and making them readable and interesting for everyone. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. When she is not writing about finance, she enjoys running in Central Park and drawing cartoons.

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