China’s largest private courier, SF Express, used drones to transport 70 kgs of medical supplies to Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital in China’s Hubei province on Wednesday.
The delivery marked the first time drones have been used to transport goods to a hospital in China. The company deployed three drones—which made 18 round-trip flights in total—to complete the deliveries.
It took one drone roughly seven minutes to take off from a brick-and-mortar warehouse and then drop off its packages, which weighed 3.3kgs, according to a company employee.
SF Express said each drone can carry 10kgs and have a range of up to 18kms. The company added that it will deploy more drones and open more routes to speed up delivery of much-needed supplies to hospitals in Wuhan, as person-to-person contact has been discouraged in the city to contain the spread of the 2019nCov virus.
The company began developing its drones as early as June 2017 and got a license from China’s aviation authorities to start testing drones in March 2018. SF Express and JD.com are two of the four couriers who have remained operational since the outbreak started.
JD.com has already used drones to send necessities to residents in locked-down villages in Hebei province, and has deployed L4 autonomous driving vehicles to deliver goods to hospitals in Wuhan.
The coronavirus has sickened 59,863 individuals in China and claimed 1,367 lives as of 10 a.m. on Wednesday.