Upstate Medical University

Upstate Testing Drone Flights from Hospital to CNY Biotech Accelerator

From CNY Central, January 15, 2021

SUNY Upstate Medical University is testing drone flights to move COVID saliva test kits.

The flight Friday took off from the roof of the hospital and traveled 2,400 feet before dropping the package at a landing site near E. Fayette Street in Syracuse.

Upstate CEO Dr. Bob Corona says it's been a dream of his to fly medical supplies instead of using motor vehicles as transport.

"Other places have done things that have been specimens over cleared populations but we are the first, as I understand, to get FAA authorization to fly biological specimens over an active human population," he said.

This was their first time using the waiver allowing them to fly COVID test kits over an active population that took seven months to get from the FAA.


The program has been 10 months in the making and has been using Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York state's UAS test site, as a training site.


Friday's test flight was a proof of concept to determine how many kits it can carry and how many flights it can do per day.


The drone can reach 150 feet in the air.