Australian regional medical delivery trials planned for Queensland

Australian pharmacy TerryWhite Chemmart is to trial he delivery of medicines via remotely operated drones in the coming months, according to a report in sUAS news.

The project, which is being undertaken in partnership with Melbourne-based company Swoop Aero and Australia’s largest healthcare wholesaler, Symbion, has been in development for over a year and will soon commence trial flights from the town of Goondiwindi, located on the Queensland/New South Wales border. The project is being funded by EBOS Group, the parent entity of Symbion.

Swoop Aero is currently working with CASA and the relevant State Authorities to ensure all requirements are met, with the launch of the service remaining subject to regulatory approvals.

According to Swoop Aero CEO Eric Peck: “The drone will fly in and out of a central point in Goondiwindi with the flight path fully automated and approved by CASA [Australia’s aviation regulator], deliver the customers products, then return to base ready for its next job. After a little training, it is very easy to operate.

“Our aircraft do not have on board cameras filming in flight but are instead guided by a three-tiered communications system consisting of mobile internet, satellite communications and Data Link. The sound of one of our drones taking off is similar to a bus starting its engine, and lasts for only up to around 10 seconds until the plane reaches cruising altitude, at which point during normal cruise flight the noise is imperceptible over normal background noise.”

Reaching speeds of 115kmp/h, the drone is designed to withstand extremes in weather including 50kmp/h winds and heavy rain. It has a range of 130km on a single charge, ensuring it can reach anyone living within that radius of Goondiwindi.

TerryWhite Chemmart Goondiwindi pharmacist Lucy Walker said: “This drone trial will provide enormous convenience and peace of mind for many of our customers. Importantly, we will learn a great deal from the trial, what works well, and what may need improving. We can use these learnings to not only fine tune the service to our community but also share with other regional TerryWhite Chemmart pharmacies around Australia who may be looking to investigate a drone delivery service.”

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