CHURP: Covid Humanitarian UAS Operation

The COVID-19 Humanitarian UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) (CHURP) Response Partnership has announced the successful completion of its current testing phase, which included the delivery of COVID test kits by drones.

CHURP is a partnership formed over nine months ago between Emergent 121 Consulting and Akin Gump, LLP. It’s a timely project to design and test advanced drone operations – and demonstrate the utility of drones to the community.

“Through this operation, CHURP has worked to bring public health officials the technology for public safety awareness, public addressing, contactless delivery, and other solutions that improve response speed and efficiency, all at the same time Significantly reduce staffing requirements and potential risks, ”said a press release.

“It was a privilege to leverage diverse talents and resources while building consensus among agencies,” said Nancy Chrisman, CEO of Emergent 121 Consulting, sponsor and facilitator of the project. “We are committed to moving our testing forward, summarizing our achievements, and scaling this humanitarian mission to effectively combat COVID-19.”

DroneUp was the provider of drone solutions for the CHURP team: conducting training, testing and evaluating use cases for drones. DroneUp has been a leader in supplying COVID test kits for drones, partnered with Walmart in Las Vegas, and received an industry-first FAA waiver to support the expansion of the program. While there are many benefits to the delivery of drones, an incredible use case in the current environment is to move COVID test kits from a residence to a testing facility quickly and without contact between a potentially infected person and other employees.

“The level of partnership and success we have had in these efforts to support our national COVID response is encouraging,” said Tom Walker, CEO of DroneUp. “By representing experts from all stakeholders, we are showing the first of many ways UAS will significantly improve the way we respond to public safety and health concerns.”

“The ability to move pharmaceutical products quickly and safely is changing the game,” said Tony Basile, COO at NUAIR. “In the world of healthcare where every minute counts, the collaboration we’ve done here shows the viability, economic benefits and lifesaving potential of non-contact drone deliveries.”

The first operation involved drone transporting COVID-19 test kits between buildings on the SUNY Upstate University Hospital campus in downtown Syracuse. “After testing operations and doing a full review of the delivery of drones related to COVID-19, officials have learned how to minimize potential exposure to health workers and public members,” the press release said. “The team was also practicing real-time airspace deconflict protocols when a flight with a patient landed on the hospital’s helipad.”

In the second use case, three UAS were used to assist the New York State University Police Department at Upstate Medical University to monitor the medical delivery process described above and identify potential safety risks on site. The information collected will be used to support future scalable operations for public safety agencies in response to COVID-19 and other emergencies.

The operations will help advance similar projects, identify the processes and procedures for all parties involved in the mission, and provide data points that other companies and regulators can use.

“We are grateful that CHURP selected Syracuse and the SUNY system to validate this important technology,” said Dr. Robert Corona, CEO of Upstate University Hospital. “We are thrilled to be the first hospital to host the first event ever to use this FAA Population and Traffic Survey Certification. This was a wild dream of mine from my time as a pathology chair. Our Upstate team, together with incredible private industrial partners, made it possible. We brought a COVID test kit from the hospital to our molecular diagnostics laboratory at the CNY Biotech Accelerator today. Going forward, drones will be seamlessly integrated into our hospital and healthcare system network across CNY and beyond. “

Miriam McNabb is editor-in-chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a marketplace for professional drone services, and a fascinating observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has written over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For advice or writing on the drone industry, email Miriam.

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