Matternet and SkyGo partner with Abu Dhabi DoH for world’s first city-wide medical drone network

Urban drone delivery company Matternet has announced a city-wide drone delivery network for the rapid transport of medical goods in Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Department of Health (DoH) and UAE logistics company SkyGo. The network will significantly increase the connectivity of the Emirate’s health ecosystem and position it as a global leader in advanced air mobility, according to a joint press release.

Matternet has been flying Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) commercially over cities since 2017. To bring its services to Abu Dhabi, Matternet has partnered with SkyGo – a company with in-depth knowledge of the Abu Dhabi healthcare landscape and logistics and distribution in the Gulf region. Matternet will operate its technology under SkyGo’s license for BVLOS drone delivery, and transport urgent, high-value goods such as COVID-19 vaccines, blood, and lab samples across the Abu Dhabi’s health system. Notably, last month Matternet became the first drone company in the US to start transporting the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by drone.

The companies plan to install 40 droneports in Abu Dhabi by the end of the first year of operation. A drone transportation network at this scale not only will make healthcare more efficient and improve patient outcomes, but also will reduce the number of delivery vehicles on Abu Dhabi’s roads, alleviating congestion, improving air quality, and lowering the city’s carbon footprint.

SkyGo and Matternet have completed the first phase of in-country flight testing, and at the DoH headquarters in Abu Dhabi the companies recently hosted a real-time demonstration of the service in the presence of H.E. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, H.E. Eng. Sultan Bin Saed Al Mansoori, H.E. Dr. Jamal Mohammed Al Kaabi Undersecretary of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, and H.E. Sultan Al Dhaheri, Executive Board Member of SkyGo among others. The demo flight transported a live patient PCR test from Zayed Sports City to a laboratory with end-to-end chain of custody tracking via Matternet’s Terminal and Mission Control applications. The companies plan to complete testing by the end of year and begin commercial operations in Q1 2022.

“We are seeing Matternet’s vision of building city-wide drone transportation infrastructure come to fruition in Abu Dhabi,” said Andreas Raptopoulos, Matternet’s CEO. “The complementary expertise and synergies with SkyGo have enabled us to move at unprecedented speed with plans to launch a network covering dozens of Abu Dhabi healthcare facilities in just the first year of operation. This will be a model for the rest of the world on how to successfully scale drone delivery for the benefit of healthcare and society overall.”

The Abu Dhabi city network will enable faster turnaround time of diagnostic and pathological samples, more reliable shipment of time-critical supplies, waste reduction from inventory centralization, and consolidation of distributed facilities (e.g. labs and pharmacies) to lower overhead. The service is expected to grow to a 24/7 operation.

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