Matternet Tests Longest Drone Delivery Route Between Hospitals and Labs in Switzerland

Matternet has begun test operations on a 5-kilometer (3-mile) beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone delivery route over Zurich, Switzerland. This is the longest urban drone delivery route ever, and it still takes only seven minutes for drones to go from one facility to the other—a much shorter time than it would take to drive the same distance through traffic.

The route goes between the Triemli and Waid Hospitals in Zurich—part of Stadspital Zurich, the city’s municipal center hospital—allowing the two facilities to exchange samples for diagnostic testing. The hope is that the new test route will serve as a prototype for expanding drone delivery networks in Europe, the U.S., and all around the world.

“Launching this new service for Stadspital Zurich is an important moment for Matternet, but also for the future of both healthcare and logistics services,” said Matternet CEO and Founder Andreas Raptopoulos. “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.”

Currently, hospitals send samples to labs via ground transportation, usually in larger batches that lead to delays as a courier waits for more items. Then the lab receives a massive influx of tests, all coming in at the same time, placing a heavy burden on lab employees. Drone delivery service will allow a more consistent flow of work throughout the day.

How does it work? Matternet provides remotes supervision of its drones through a Mission Control center in Zurich. The Matternet Station allows a secure, end-to-end chain of custody of the samples or other medical products and allows automated battery and payload swapping.

“Switzerland has established itself as one of the most advanced countries in the world for scaled drone delivery operations,” Raptopoulos said. “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 citywide medical network that can become a template for similar networks in Europe, the U.S. and beyond.”

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