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Germany tests drone powered medical delivery system

Germany tests drone powered medical delivery system

The main goal of the project is to connect well-stocked central pharmacies with regional hospitals

On 1 October the Bavarian Minister of Housing, Construction and Transport, Kerstin Schreyer, attended a test flight in Neubiberg of the ‘MEDinTime’ research project of the Bundeswehr University. The project aims to create a drone delivery system for specialised medication to regional hospitals.

The technological backbone of the project is the innovative drone developed by Quantum-Systems. Their Unmanned Aircraft System (UAV) is capable of longer flights and higher speed while using less power due to its ergonomic design.

Regional hospitals and emergencies need the right kind of drugs and fast

The MEDinTime project aims to fix a longstanding logistical nightmare in the German healthcare system, namely, how to transport vital and highly specific medication to faraway regional clinics fast and around the clock.

Bavarian Minister of Housing, Construction and Transport Kerstin Schreyer and the drone,
Source: Sven Hoppe/dpa

Usually, these drugs are supplied through well-stocked clinical pharmacies, however, due to the sheer distance and transport time between pharmacies and primary care centres, local hospitals are forced to keep large amounts of relatively rare medication in stock at all times.

One of the major problems with this system is that, while local hospitals have their own stock, they rarely use it up, and are forced to throw out significant quantities of medication, contributing to a rise in costs for the hospital operator and the healthcare system as a whole.

The added value of drones

The first goal of MEDinTime is to connect central pharmacies with local clinics. The Quantum-Systems drone will be equipped with a removable, smart transport box. It will have a smart hack-proof locking mechanism linked to a central cloud-based management software. This will ensure only the right people can unlock the box after it arrives at its destination.

Furthermore, the transport box is air-conditioned and fulfills the legal requirements for the transport of medicine, concerning temperature and hygiene.

At the same time, the team envisions a wide range of future applications for the Quantum-Systems drone specifically in public services. For example, one of the first extensions of the MEDinTime medical delivery should be in emergencies like accidents and natural disasters.

In addition to medication delivery, the drone can also provide real-time data and images created during the flight to help emergency teams with knowledge about the affected area and an aerial view of the situation.  

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