Matternet, the developer of drone delivery systems, announced it has begun test operations on a five-kilometer BVLOS (beyond-visual-line-of-sight) route over the city of Zurich, Switzerland. This route is the world’s longest drone delivery route over a major city and will be used to transport diagnostic samples between the Triemli and Waid Hospitals – both a part of Stadspital Zürich, a municipal central hospital owned by the city of Zurich.
“Launching this new service for Stadspital Zürich is an important moment for Matternet, but also for the future of both health care and logistics services,” said Andreas Raptopoulos, founder and CEO of Matternet. “Leveraging the longest urban BVLOS route to transport biological samples for diagnostic testing on-demand changes the way that hospitals and hospital systems can approach patient care, all while creating new efficiencies that can improve patient experiences and ensure that they keep pace with the demands of the 21st century.”
Using Matternet’s unmanned aircraft, transportation between the two hospitals and their laboratories takes just seven minutes. This test is demonstrating the potential for drones to provide fast, on-demand delivery for individual urgent shipments, without congesting Zurich roads or emitting CO2. Matternet drones transport medical items with secure end-to-end chain of custody and operate autonomously with remote supervision through Matternet’s Mission Control center in Zurich.
Currently, hospitals rely on ground transport to deliver samples to laboratories for testing. This usually means that large batches are sent via car or van, which can result in significant delays. This approach also creates a major burden for lab staff with huge influxes of tests received at once instead of a steady flow throughout the day. Additionally, for urgent, single-patient diagnostic tests, hospitals also rely on vehicle-based couriers, which can be even slower and less efficient.
Matternet is actively working on drone delivery networks that can fill urgent logistics needs in health care and help transition on-demand ecommerce to a sustainable mode of transport. In the U.S., the company recently received Type Certification and a production certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for their M2 drone, making them the first company to have FAA clearance to build and fly their own commercial delivery drone in that country.
“Switzerland has established itself as one of the most advanced countries in the world for scaled drone delivery operations,” added Raptopoulos. “And this new route in Zurich – built on the foundation of five years of successful operations in Switzerland – will help us create insights into developing a city-wide medical network that can become a template for similar networks in Europe, the U.S., and beyond.”