The first ship-to-shore drone delivery in the U.S., to be held June 23 on the New Jersey coastline, will attempt to demonstrate the capacity of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to provide lifesaving aid to victims of a disaster, such as a hurricane or system-wide failure of electrical or communications infrastructure.

Nevada-based drone delivery company Flirtey will fly medical samples for emergency testing from an improvised onshore relief camp at Cape May, New Jersey to a test facility on a vessel stationed off the coast. In a round trip, the company’s drones will also deliver medical supplies from the vessel to the onshore camp.

Flirtey is developing the capability to rapidly deliver medical supplies along coastlines where road systems are damaged. Image credit: Pixabay.Flirtey is developing the capability to rapidly deliver medical supplies along coastlines where road systems are damaged. Image credit: Pixabay.The Red Cross and several United Nations (UN) agencies will participate in the event, coordinated by the disaster readiness organization Field Innovation Team, to assess the technology’s ability to improve the timelessness and reliability of medical equipment delivery and diagnostic testing in disaster zones.

“We recognize the opportunity for us to engage with drone developers and operators in ensuring the principled application of game-changing technologies in response to humanitarian crises around the world,” says Andrew Billo, of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “Participating in this event supports [our mission] to mobilize and coordinate effective humanitarian action with a broad range of partners."

The flights will be conducted out of the Cape May Ferry Terminal under the New Jersey Institute of Technology's federal Certificate of Authorization to fly in the national air space, granted by the Federal Aviation Administration. Dr. Timothy Amukele, a pathologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital and pioneer in the use of drones to transport blood samples and blood products into and out of remote regions lacking health infrastructure, will be onsite to oversee the deliveries.

Flirtey, the first company to conduct a fully autonomous drone delivery to a home in the U.S., is developing the capability to rapidly deliver medical supplies along coastlines where road systems are damaged. Eight of the 10 largest cities in the world are coastal cities, and more than three billion people, or 44% of the world’s population, live within 95 miles of the coast, according to the UN.

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