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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Drone technology is a growing field and the University of Alabama in Huntsville is leading research that could shape the future of rural health care.

A team is working on ways to use drones to carry supplies to care for patients. Part of their research is putting on simulations.

Most recently they acted out a scenario where a pregnant woman needed a medication that was unavailable at her rural hospital. In the simulation, they were able to transport the medication to her via drone.

Dr. Azita Amiri with the UAH College of Nursing says technology like this is already used in other countries.

“They use drones to carry HIV testing, vaccines, blood for transfusions and testing but they do not have the FAA regulations that we have in this country,” she explained.

In Alabama, which covers 50,744 square miles with a 2020 estimated population of 5,024,279, there are 1,146,765 people living in rural areas, or 23% of the population, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.