Swiss Post takes hospital drone tests to next level

Swiss Post is to take its drone delivery pilot project to the “next test phase”.

The Swiss postal operator in conjunction with drone manufacturer Matternet and the EOC hospital group began to run test flights in March between the Lugano Ospedale Italiano and the Ospedale Civico hospitals in March.

As the pilot goes to the next level, according to Swiss Post the drones will now be used to transport “actual laboratory samples or urgently needed medication”, that will be carried in a safety box that fulfils all transport regulations for biological materials.

Swiss Post said that the flights will be “aligned as closely as possible to the fully-automated process which will be used in the future”.

The company added: “The drone will once again be loaded manually during the new round of test flights. In the future, however, a fully automated logistics station from Matternet will be used. This will enable hospital staff to load the drone without touching it and to dispatch it using the Matternet smartphone app.”

Swiss Post and its partners are aiming to operate a regular drone delivery service for the hospitals from the summer of 2018.

Switzerland is taking the lead in live trials of drone deliveries in Europe. The small, mountainous country is outside the EU and has fewer regulations to deal with in making this happen, and may well benefit from the system for smaller outlying communities in hard to access areas. Swiss Post’s pilot project is between hospitals in an urban area but Matternet is working on another scheme elsewhere in the country with a private delivery company as well.  
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