Medical probes transported successfully by drone in Hamburg

19 February 2020
ZAL and Airbus Technik take part in Medifly - unmanned aircraft transport tissue samples

Six unmanned drones transported medical samples from the Bundeswehr hospital in Wandsbek to the Catholic Marienkrankenhaus in Hohenfelde in mid February as part of successful tests of the new Medfly project, a press release said Thursday (February 6, 2020). The results will form the basis for a pilot phase lasting lasting several months funded by the German Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), the Center for Applied Aviation Research (ZAL), the drone start-up FlyNex, the Gesellschaft für Luftverkehrsinformatik (GLVI) and Lufthansa Technik AG. Hopes are now high that drones can help lower the length of anaesthesia as the target hospital can be approached directly and regardless of the traffic situation. Until now, tissue samples have had to be transported by ambulance to other hospitals’ pathology departments. Surgery only resumed when the results of samples became available as surgeons needed certainty that all abnormal tissue had been removed.

Huge advantages of drone transport

Michael Westhagemann, Senator for Economics, Transport and Innovation, commented: “The project’s concrete benefit for users and the general public is clearly visible. After all, the overriding goal is to help improve patient care through the use of unmanned, automated aircraft. “The advantage of tissue transport by drone is immense,” said Ursula Störrle-Weiß, Managing Director of the Medical Care Center (MVZ) at Marienkrankenhaus. The sooner a sample is on site, the faster the results become available. Tight security measures were in place for the drone flights over urban areas and near Hamburg Airport. The team was in constant contact with the state aviation authority and air traffic control at the airport.

Hamburg – EU’s model drone region

In 2018, Hamburg became a model region for the civilian use of drones and other urban air mobility technologies when it joined the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) initiative by the European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC) backed by the European Commission. Urban air transport will be high on the agenda of the ITS World Congress 2021, which Hamburg is hosting with the German Ministry of Transport. Around 15,000 delegates are expected at the world’s largest congress on intelligent transport. The event is becoming a catalyst of the ITS strategy adopted by Hamburg’s senate as the city positions itself as a model and laboratory of intelligent transport and logistics solutions.

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