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COVID-19: German drone delivers test samples to lab in 7 minutes

Germany’s Quantum-Systems GmbH and the Becker & Kollegen laboratory are implementing drone delivery for coronavirus, report dronelife.com. A test operation demonstrated that urgent samples could be transported from a mobile corona test station on the Theresienwiese to the Munich laboratory in 7 minutes – a result that could have “a major positive effect on the chain of infection”, says a company press release.

“In the event of a pandemic, a few hours may have a major influence on the development of the infection chain,” says Marc Becker M.D. “I am concerned about the patient behind each sample and their well-being in terms of the quality and speed of the findings. However, it is also about reducing risks for the many people involved in our laboratory services, such as doctors, courier services and assistants.”

Transport by drone has proven to be 8 to 12 times faster than traditional methods. During a test flight, the autonomously operated Trinity F90+ drone from Quantum-Systems transported 20 sample tubes in less than seven minutes over the 6.4 km flight distance from Theresienwiese to a laboratory in Frührichstraße. Couriers who usually transport by van report that under normal traffic conditions in Munich, the trip takes an hour or more.

More importantly during the current pandemic, the drone delivery system is contactless. Robert Hirt, Chief Digital Officer, laboratory Becker & Kollegen says: “As part of our vision of a No-Touch Sample Distribution (NTSD), our initiative with Quantum-Systems makes an important contribution to the discussion on how we can use automation and digital technology to further reduce analog touch points and the associated potential danger to humans”.

While the technology is ready to implement drone delivery on a wide scale, says Quantum, the regulatory environment is not.  Federal Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer presented his drone action plan at a press conference last month, saying that the agency would release targeted funding for the development of drone technology in Germany, and would look at regulations – especially in light of new EU drone regulation scheduled for implementation in the beginning of 2021.

“When looking at time-critical transport for medical purposes, the benefits of reliable drones are hard to deny,” says Quantum. “If the technology is to be used in everyday life, the next step would be to overcome hurdles in legislation and the regulatory authorities.”

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