Stewart-Haas Racing using drones, parachutes to deliver medical supplies

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Stewart-Haas Racing has expanded its involvement in moving critical medical supplies to hospitals and other locations.

The racing organization recently built a facility on its Kannapolis, North Carolina campus that includes a launching pad for drones to expedite delivery of supplies to where they are needed.

In partnership with on-demand drone logistics service Zipline, the initiative further expands a relationship between SHR and Novant Health that has to date delivered 20 million face masks and produced 120 Intensive Care Unit webcam carts to several Novant Health facilities primarily in the Charlotte area.

A drone carrying medical supplies prepares for launch from the campus of Stewart-Haas Racing. Photo courtesy Stewart-Haas Racing.

“Once again, SHR stepped up when we had a need in response to this pandemic by providing us the critical space to create our distribution center,” said Mark Welch, senior vice president of supply chain for Novant Health. “This operation is taking Novant Health logistics to the next level and we could not do it without the assistance of Stewart-Haas Racing.”

The battery-powered drones are loaded with boxed supplies that need to be delivered from the facility on the SHR campus. The drones are then programmed to fly to Novant Health locations where the payloads are dropped via parachute to waiting personnel who take the supplies to their intended destination.

According to a media release, the drones weigh about 40 pounds with payload, have a top speed of 80 mph, have a 50-mile range and can carry packages close to four pounds, even in inclement weather.

“As soon as we heard about the initiative Novant Health had with Zipline, our only question was, ‘How can we help?’,” said Mike Verlander, vice president of sales and marketing, Stewart-Haas Racing. “Finding a tract of land that could be used for the distribution center was paramount, and Gene Haas, the co-owner of our race team, had the perfect spot right behind our race shop.

“He cut through all the red tape and dirt was quickly moved. We helped with logistical coordination during the build and have seen firsthand the work of the Zipline crew and the efficiency of the distribution center and the technology it houses. It’s all very impressive.”

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