Drone delivers Covid-19 tests to laboratory in less than seven minutes

Quantum-Systems GmbH tests transport of human medical samples via drones for timely results.

Gilching, Deutschland, June, 2020. The physician in protective clothes inserts the swab into the tube, asks the older man a few specific questions and marks the note “urgent sample”.

Last week Quantum-Systems GmbH and laboratory Becker & Kollegen tested the transport of samples, by drone, from the mobile corona test station on the Theresienwiese to the Munich laboratory.

Timely results may have major influence on chain of infection

Urgent samples must be delivered to the laboratory as quickly as possible. This is the case, for example, when a timely test result has a decisive influence on the choice and success of therapeutic measures for a patient. In the event of a pandemic, a few hours may have a major influence on the development of the chain of infection. “I am concerned about the individual behind each sample and the well-being of the patient in terms of the quality and speed of the findings,” says Marc Becker, M.D. “In this particular case, however, it is also about reducing risks for the many people involved in the provision of our laboratory services, such as doctors, courier services and assistants.”

Transport by drone is 8 to 12 times faster

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 (~4 miles] flight distance from Theresienwiese to the laboratory in Frührichstraße. According to the statement from a courier driver who regularly makes the ride between the test station and the laboratory, it often takes an hour or more to travel by van under normal Munich traffic conditions. He has rarely carried more than 15 urgent corona (SARS-Cov-2) test samples. The advantages are obvious: transport by drone is 8 to 12 times faster, emission-free and virtually noiseless.

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 humansRobert Hirt

Chief Digital Officer, Laboratoy Becker & Kollegen

Drone technology is ready for autonomous missions yet limited by regulations

Putting such a project into practice is easily possible with the technology of Quantum-Systems. From the very beginning, the drones of the Munich-based company have been developed in such a way that autonomous missions can be scaled at any time. To connect the drones on their flights in real time with the cloud and customer-specific Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, Quantum-Systems relies on software solutions from Auterion. Auterion is a global company with which Quantum-Systems has been working closely together for this purpose since February 2020. The regulations to be considered for such missions are currently extensive in Germany.

The approval procedure in the run-up, which has not yet been digitized, is very complex. The responsible aviation authority issues an individual permit only after a detailed risk analysis has been submitted. In addition, permission for take-off and landing must always be obtained from the respective property owner. For each individual BVLOS flight (beyond visual line of sight flight), an additional inspection certificate must be obtained. Due to these conditions, such projects are currently not economically executable in Germany.

Quantum-Systems is able to fulfill requirements for transport of medical payloads

Quantum-Systems already has experience in transporting very sensitive medical payloads by drone, for which further strict requirements must be met.

Quantum-Systems Trinity F90+ drone

In South Africa Quantum-Systems delivers its technology for the BloodWing project of the South African National Blood Service (SANBS). The Tron F90+ UAV transports blood bags from blood banks to remote hospitals – and this way saves lives, since in an emergency the blood bags can be delivered to their destination faster than by land. To do so, one must comply with the respective legal requirements for the transport of drugs or medicine. For example, the transport box must fulfill certain hygienic and climatic demands. In addition, the transport must be secure and completely traceable, access to the box must be possible for authorized persons only. These are requirements that Quantum-Systems already fulfills.