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NC Department of Transportation drone program nominated for national award

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RALEIGH —The N.C. Department of Transportation’s drone program has again been named a finalist for a national award. The program could win a prize with enough online votes from the public.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has named the NCDOT’s Drone Medical Delivery program as one of the Top 12 projects in the 2020 America’s Transportation Awards. The Top 12 are eligible for two top prizes, the Grand Prize awarded by a panel of judges, and the People’s Choice Award that’s determined by an online vote from the public.

“Our drone program has put our state at the forefront of innovation in shipping and logistics,” said N.C. Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette. “Especially given the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve proved how valuable this entirely new mode of transportation can be in relieving medical supply chains and improving health care for the people of North Carolina. It’s definitely worthy of this award, and I hope folks will vote for it.”

Since launching at Raleigh’s WakeMed Hospital last year, the drone delivery program has expanded to include additional medical supply delivery operations in Mecklenburg and Forsyth counties, with more routes to be added this year.

In North Carolina, more than 3,000 drone flights carrying medical supplies have been completed to date. Those flights have served nearly 6,000 patients.

Three of the nation’s five approved routine drone delivery services are in North Carolina.

Anyone can vote for “Drones: North Carolina’s Future of Healthcare Logistics” as part of the People’s Choice Award. Just visit americastransportationawards.org to cast your vote. People can vote once per day, every day, until the competition closes at midnight on Oct. 25.

The NCDOT’s drone program was nominated for the same awards last year for its groundbreaking use of drones as a disaster response tool in the wake of Hurricane Florence.

Winners will be announced at the AASHTO virtual annual meeting the week of Nov. 9. Winners will be awarded $10,000 to a charity or scholarship fund of their choice.