O&M Movianto Drones
WILL DRONES FILL THE SKY?

Will it ever be appropriate to deliver healthcare products by drone?

Pharmaceutical deliveries by drones: technically possible for a long time

Small, equipped with four to eight rotors and remote controlled – drones have been advancing swiftly for quite some time now: some have a camera on board, others can take supplies from A to B. This is an ability that makes drones commercially attractive, especially to logistics companies. No more detours and no more time consuming traffic jams. Even though drones can carry only a few kilos at a time – and this seems to be a disadvantage – pharmaceutical logistics are interested in UAVs as the decisions are individual, case-by-case and reason enough for producers and logistics experts alike to be watching this sector.

Immaterial whether the project at hand is the transportation of single medications to doctors, the express delivery of medical supplies to pharmacies or even patient health care: technically, there is to date no problem to use UAVs for this. Since the end of 2013, numerous test flights have proven this to producers and logistics experts.

GPS steered drones evade obstacles on their own accord and can reach destinations in inaccessible areas

UAVs were routine tested in 2014 when a pharmacy on the German island of Juist, in the North Sea, got the express pharmaceutical supplies by drone delivery, several months in a row. Steered by GPS, the drone passed safely through the air corridor designated by German national aviation control and evaded the nosey seagulls all on its own. Due to this successfully accomplished mission, the rescue helicopter did not have to be sent from the mainland.

However, drone delivery of pharmaceuticals is still a matter for the future due to the current legal framework in Germany with the German medical law on the one hand and the German aviation law on the other hand, where drones are not permitted in civil air spaces. Obtaining permits for the exceptions is a lengthy process. Other European states also have their own regulations regarding UAVs, amounting to 18 different sets of regulations. Currently, the EU is working on a uniform set of basic regulations and there’s a good chance that the commercial use of drones will remarkably easier in future.

Until then, drones will have to show off their advantages in a different way. Using UAVs in emergencies is a possibility, transporting urgently required pharmaceuticals as fast as possible, i.e. to disaster areas that are inaccessible to lorries and helicopters. The size of the UAVs used varies. Currently, an Israeli company is testing a drone that can transport 500 kilos within a range of 50 km.

 


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