Test flights for emergency medical transport by drone will be starting in the coming months. The drone flights will take place over sparsely populated areas between Isalas hospitals in Meppel (Drenthe) and Zwolle (Overijssel).

According to a press release from ANWB (the Royal Dutch Touring Club), the drones will make transportation of emergency medical supplies “faster, safer, and cleaner than by road, and will contribute to supporting the right care in the right place.”

This work is made possible by a massive collaboration between Medical Drones Services Initiative, ANWB, and PostNL, along with medical partners Erasmus MC, Isala, Sanquin, and Certe, with technology partners Avy and KPN.

Together, the companies are investigating and investing in the use of drones to improve care and service to patients. Over the next three years, research will be conducted into how drones can safely and reliably improve the speed and delivery of such emergency medical shipments as blood, medicines, and diagnostic samples.

Plan

Testing will take place over the Meppel-Zwolle route until mid-2021. The flights will only take place on working days, flying a distance of 15 kilometres and landing in a meadow to the north of Zwolle. The test flights have been approved by the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate.

The flights serve only to collect information for further development of the service, and will not be transporting medical items.

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ANWB says safety is paramount in the flights. They will not fly over houses or farms, and all flights will be monitored.

Drone design

The quiet, electrically-powered drone has a wingspan of 2.5 metres and is controlled remotely by a pilot on the ground. It takes off vertically and flies horizontally at an altitude of around 100 metres. The drone flies at a speed of 75 kilometres an hour. The journey between Meppel and Zwolle takes 15 – 20 minutes.

What do you think of the Netherlands incorporating these new medical drones? Tell your thoughts in the comments.

Feature Image: ANWB

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