ANWB, PostNL to test medical drones for Sanquin and Erasmus MC

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ANWB and PostNL will test medical drone transport for Erasmus MC and Sanquin from the end of May 2021. The test flights take place between Rhoon and Oud-Beijerland. The aim is to investigate how in the future blood and medicines can be urgently transported by drone from Erasmus MC and Sanquin to the Zeeland region.

Patients sometimes need urgent blood or medication. When every second counts, traffic jams and road congestion can have serious consequences. The use of a drone can then be the solution. It is also a sustainable alternative to road transport. Erasmus MC, Sanquin, ANWB and PostNL have therefore joined forces in the Medical Drone Service project to develop medical transport by drone.

Testing for the future

During the flights, it will be investigated what is needed to be able to fly in the airspace between Erasmus and Zeeland. They are therefore carried out in close contact with Air Traffic Control the Netherlands. The drones do not yet have any medical supplies on board during the test flights. Within the consortium Medical Drone Service, test flights are also being conducted between Meppel and Zwolle for the Isala Diaconessenhuis. These test flights are going well. By developing on multiple routes, we build up knowledge that is necessary to be able to fly for the entire medical Netherlands in the future.

Before you can actually fly with blood or medicine, there is still a long way to go. The technology will be further developed and the drones will have to be integrated into other air traffic. The regulations also need to be further developed. Sanquin has already carried out a number of validation tests with blood products in the drone, which showed that the temperature specifications could be maintained.

Strict safety requirements

The ANWB, which also flies the trauma helicopters and ambulance helicopters, carries out the flight operation. The drone flies at a height of 80 meters, has a wingspan of 2.5 meters, is electrically powered and quiet. This ensures minimal disruption to people and nature. Strict safety requirements are attached to the execution of the drone flights to guarantee safety on the ground and in the air. For example, if a trauma helicopter flies over the trajectory route, the drone will remain on the ground.

The test flights will take place from the end of May to July 2021. A total of approximately 8 test flights will be made.


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