The project “Medifly Hamburg” set out to explore how unmanned aircraft systems can be used for medical transports, and to develop a commercially viable medical air transport service. The objective is to determine how to transport medical goods by unmanned aircraft in a reliable, safe, and commercially viable manner. The overall goal of the project is to make a contribution to improving patient care through the use of unmanned, automated aircraft.
Activities in 2019, and early 2020, focused on demonstrations of safe flights under so-called extended visual line-of-sight conditions, where the unmanned aircraft is essentially on auto-pilot with remote pilots in the field observing the flight, standing by to exert control when necessary.
The “Medifly Hamburg” project carried out test flights for a medical airfreight service between the Bundeswehr hospital in Wandsbek and the Marien hospital in Hohenfelde on February 5, 2020. The distance between the two hospitals is 5 km as the crow flies.
Transport of medical tissue samples becomes necessary if tissue samples have to be taken as part of medical interventions and have to be examined by a pathologist during the operation. The transport to the pathology takes place today by means of blue light transport through the partly dense city traffic.
A total of six test flights were carried out safely and reliably over urban areas and within the control zone of Hamburg Airport. The flights were automated. Additional marshals were set up along the route, who could have intervened at any time in an emergency.
Subsequently, over the course of several months, the project is going to change the mode of operations from observers in the field, via remote monitoring and control, to completely automatic operations; all the time monitoring duration of flights, cost of operations, and availability of services, to assess commercial viability under the premises of patient health and flight safety.
The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI).
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