Swiss Hospitals will Use Drones to Deliver Medical Supplies by the End of This Year

California startup, Matternet, has built a drone network that will make hospital deliveries faster and cheaper.

Hospitals will start using drones to deliver urgent deliveries of blood and other medical needs thanks to an innovative Silicon Valley startup. So far only Swiss hospitals will implement drone deliveries, and they expect to start using it at the end of the year.

Several other companies have looked to drone technology to make deliveries more convenient, including the retail giant, Amazon. The startup, Matternet, will develop a fully automated delivery station purely for hospitals where drones can take off and land.

Implementing drones will cut hospitals’ expenses significantly, as it eliminates the need for expensive couriers. Drones will also have faster delivery times, which can be crucial in emergency situations.

According to the startup, a Matternet station will be installed either in a hospital car park or roof. Packages can be up to the size of a shoe box. The deliveries will be loaded by hospital staff, and then be automatically attached to the drone using a robotic arm.

Drones will operate mainly in a Swiss airspace that is hardly used by aircraft, and it will fly at an altitude similar to that of an emergency helicopter. The drones will be able to broadcast their location to any other aircraft at all times. The drone will be able to carry packages up to 2kg and can fly for a distance of 12 miles.

Once the drone lands, it communicates its landing with the base station in charge of the landing procedure. The base station will then orchestrate the landing, especially if several drones need to land at once.

The Swiss Federal Office for Civil Aviation has recently extended a special license to the startup, which will enable them to operate the drones on a trial basis. The trial will be performed in Lugano. All parties involved, however, are positive that this initiative will extend to other Swiss cities, the rest of Europe, the US, and Japan before the end of the year.

The California based startup, Matternet, boasted the convenience of using drones. The station would not take a lot of space, the technology involved is precise and not likely to cause problems, and in addition, it saves the health care industry time and money.

Any hospital worker can easily send a package to a different location, by merely scanning it into the Matternet station. They can also receive a specific package by scanning a QR code at a station. Every station will be equipped with its very own automatic aerial deconfliction system which can navigate the drone successfully through air traffic.

According to Matternet chief executive, Andreas Raptopoulos, an integrated Matternet network can benefit a hospital immensely. Medical items can be delivered to any other facility within a radius of 12 miles within 30 minutes. This can cut down operational costs as well as time spent having to orchestrate courier delivers.


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