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The German Federal Ministry for Transportation and Digital Infrastructure has been funding a joint research project in order to demonstrate the use of drones for transportation of medical supplies in Hamburg. The project, known as Medifly, has recently completed several drone flights, demonstrating the application of unmanned aerial vehicles for delivery of urgent medical supplies.
Six drone flights were conducted between Saint Mary’s Hospital in Hohenfelde and the German Armed Forces Hospital in Wandsbek-Gartenstadt. The insight gained from the drones that took part of the five kilometer flight will help establish the foundation for additional tests over the next several months.
The intention of the Medifly program is to determine how capable UASs could be at delivering medical samples in a reliable and safe manner. During surgery, tissue samples are regularly extracted in order to be examined by a pathologist. However, the majority of hospitals don’t have a pathology lab and therefore tissue samples must be transported via ambulance to the nearest pathology lab. During this time, surgery cannot continue and the patient is often put on long periods of anesthesia, according to Uasvision.com. Replacing ambulance delivery with drone delivery could help save a lot of time in surgeries.
In order to approve the drone’s test flights, a large number of safety measures had to be implemented, especially when considering the drones flew above a densely populated area in the air traffic control zone of Hamburg’s international airport. The flights were approved only after the program proved that automated flights in the area could be performed safely and reliably at any time. It took months of planning in order to receive flight approval from the authorities.
Based on the six test flights, the program will begin an extended test flight campaign soon enough. The campaign is expected to last several months and will help assess additional factors relating to the economic viability of the UAS application.