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Drones to Optimize Exchange of Samples between Hospitals

By Labmedica International staff writers
Posted on 18 Apr 2017
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Image: A quadrocopter drone transporting a biological safety box (Photo courtesy of Swiss Post).
Image: A quadrocopter drone transporting a biological safety box (Photo courtesy of Swiss Post).
Switzerland is slated to become one of the first countries in the world to introduce the use of drones for routine transport of medical samples between hospitals.

A recent announcement stated that Swiss Post and the drone manufacturer Matternet would provide the infrastructure to transport samples between the Ticino EOC hospital group's Ospedale Italiano and the Ospedale Civico hospitals.

The drones to be used are compact quadrocopters that can carry up to two kilograms for up to 20 kilometers at an average speed of 36 kilometers per hour. Biological samples will be carried in a dedicated safety box, and the drones will be controlled with a smartphone application.

So far around 70 autonomous test flights have been conducted between the two hospital locations. The Swiss Federal Office for Civil Aviation (FOCA) has inspected the drone and its safety components, defined the legal conditions for flying it, and granted Swiss Post and Matternet approval for the flights. Further testing with flights is planned over a one-month period in summer 2017 and regular drone flights are expected to begin in 2018.

It is planned that drones will complement traditional parcel delivery sensibly, but they will not replace it.

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