For the first time in the EU, a remotely operated drone has been used to transport human blood samples and tissues in an urban setting in Belgium.
The successful drone flights took place between hospitals in Antwerp and were operated by drone airline, Helicus.
Helicus is the first company in Europe to obtain permission to conduct flights above a populated city and out of the pilot’s field of view.
This flight follows Helicus’s first inter-hospital flight in 2019. At that time, no human material was transported and pilots had to be positioned at both the take-off and landing sites.
In comparison, remotely operated drone flights are much more efficient and will enable fully integrated and automated drone-based medical transport.
The transported samples are being examined as part of a clinical study at SGS Clinical Pharmacology Unit (SGS CPU), which supports the development of medicine through clinical trials.
To allow reliable analysis, such samples should be tested shortly after they are taken. Drone logistics is therefore being trialled as a faster and more scalable means of urban transport.
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