VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — How can drones help in a pandemic, like the one we’re in right now? That’s what Tom Walker, the CEO and founder of DroneUp, wanted to learn.

“Once the pandemic started gaining momentum and we were beginning to quarantine people in the United States, the question from federal, state, local and even out in the public was ‘how can we use drones to assist with this pandemic?'” said Walker.

They wanted to focus specifically on delivery. 

“I began talking with UPS, who is one of our partners, talking to the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology, and I said, ‘Why don’t we do a test? Why don’t we find out what would actually happen if we brought professional drone operators with readily available platforms, retrofitted them with delivery gear and actually tried and did a test of a mass delivery exercise into a quarantine area?'” said Walker.

They headed out to Lawrenceville, Virginia, and began testing drone deliveries at an old abandoned college that simulated a small town.

“We did a lot of deliveries; we did several hundred. We actually measured about 81 of them and of 81 attempts we had 80 that were precise deliveries that were successful,” he said.

So, what could the drones deliver?

“It can be medical supplies, it could be test kits, it could be water, it could be toilet paper for that matter. We tested the delivery utilizing just standard generic packaging to determine the weights, half a pound, up to several pounds,” said Walker.

He said they gathered a bunch of data and learned that if they were called upon today, they could do these deliveries safely and efficiently.

He said they’re working on publishing a 30- to 40-page report that will outline different guidelines, safety procedures, and communication protocols.

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