AT&T, Merck, Skybox Drone Transports Sensitive Medicine

AT&T and its partners have successfully completed their tests to transport temperature-sensitive medicine safely and quickly with drones using LTE.

A drone connected via LTE transports the insulated packaging system "Skypod" with medical goods, which in turn contains a smart box with AT&T IoT technology.

This monitors the outside and inside temperature as well as the location of the Skypod in real time and issues a warning if the temperature of the load changes or the drone moves outside the defined path. The test run was conducted in cooperation with Softbox, a supplier of packaging for the cold chain, and the pharmaceutical company Merck in Puerto Rico.

AT&T's IoT technology tracks the Skypod with data displayed on a web and mobile app dashboard. The data includes real-time outside and inside temperatures of the box and its location. Light exposure data helps signal manipulation of the box in daylight by determining whether the box is open or closed.

If irregularities are detected, the dashboard app warns the userto take appropriate action. For example, a warning is issued when the temperature range changes from 2°C to 8°C. It is also warned if the drone is outside the defined geo parameters.

The Skypod was developed as a prototype in the AT&T Foundry and presented at the beginning of the year. The AT&T Foundry is a network of innovation centers that work with start-ups, technology providers and companies to bring ideas to market faster through rapid prototyping.