Matternet, developer of urban drone logistics platform, has launched operations at Labor Berlin Charité Vivantes in Germany. The program kicked-off on November 17 with permanent operations expected to take flight next year, creating the first urban BVLOS medical drone delivery network in the European Union. The drone network expects to significantly improve the timeliness and efficiency of Labor Berlin’s diagnostics services by providing an option to avoid roadway delays, which will improve patient experience with potentially life-saving benefits and lower costs.
Labor Berlin is Europe’s largest hospital laboratory with state-of-the-art facilities in 13 hospitals across the city. The organisation is responsible for diagnostics for 80 per cent of patient beds in Berlin. Currently, over 15,000 samples are transported daily across Labor Berlin’s extensive network. With Matternet’s drone technology and Labor Berlin’s impressive scale, the drone delivery network has the potential to serve millions of patients each year. The network will connect three locations initially: Labor Berlin’s central lab on Charité Campus Virchow-Klinikum, the Charité Hospital Campus Benjamin Franklin and the Corona Clinic by Vivantes – Corona-Behandlungszentrum Jafféstraße.
“We continue to expand drone delivery operations around the world with a focus on urban environments,” said Andreas Raptopoulos, CEO of Matternet. He added, “Hospitals and laboratories in densely populated cities like Berlin need fast and predictable transportation methods that avoid urban congestion. We are thrilled to partner with Labor Berlin and look forward to streamlining their diagnostics work to benefit of Berlin’s hospitals and residents.”
During the initial phase of the program, Matternet will work with Labor Berlin to determine optimal ways to integrate drone delivery into the laboratory group’s existing workflow. The partners intend to invite government and public sector representatives (subject to Covid-19 social distancing restrictions) to observe drone flights, and engage other airspace users such as Helicopter Emergency Rescue Services, Berlin police and Berlin’s airports. Matternet will also work closely with the Air Navigation Service Provider in Germany and UTM providers to integrate the drones safely into Berlin’s airspace.
“Labor Berlin strives for best-in-class medical diagnostics, and patient care is our absolute priority. Reducing diagnostic lead times can greatly improve patient outcomes and experiences. Matternet’s drone delivery network will not only be able to transport patient samples from hospitals to Labor Berlin facilities up to 70 per cent quicker, but also reduce vehicular traffic and emissions in Berlin’s urban core. Matternet is a proven leader in the urban drone delivery space, and we are excited to collaborate to provide our patients, especially those in emergency situations, an innovative, safe and rapid alternative to lab sample transport by car,” said Nina Beikert, managing director of Labor Berlin.
Matternet’s drone system has been operating around the world since 2017 through partnerships with Swiss Post, UPS and most recently Japan Airlines. In Switzerland, the system is operating at Lugano’s EOC hospital and the University Hospital Zurich. In the US, operations are taking place at Wake Forest Baptist Health and WakeMed’s flagship hospital and campus in Raleigh, N.C. Matternet’s technology is also enabling UPS to provide drone delivery service of prescription medicines for The Villages, Florida, one of the largest retirement communities in the US. The service provides an option for seniors at higher risk for the Coronavirus infection to receive prescriptions without going to a store.