Wingcopter drones transport blood samples in German project

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Drone manufacturer Wingcopter has taken part in a challenge which aims to improve regional emergency care in rural Germany by integrating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into the rescue chain and emergency medical transports.

The beyond the pilots’ visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights carried a pneumatic tube, including 250 grams of blood samples, 26km (16 miles) across Northeast Germany. The Wingcopters completed the route in an average of 18 minutes, nearly twice as fast as ground-based transport.

According to the team, the use of Wingcopter drones could speed up emergency medical care in rural areas and help save lives. In the event of a blood transfusion being necessary at short notice, blood samples from Wolgast District Hospital must be transported to Greifswald University Hospital for analysis in order to determine the appropriate donor blood.

The goal is to establish permanent flight connections between the medical centre in Greifswald and hospitals in the surrounding area as soon as possible. Drones are also to be used to support first responders on site, for example by quickly transporting medications and emergency medical equipment such as defibrillators to the scene of an accident.

“With this project, we have demonstrated that we can also improve medical care and quality of life in rural areas in Germany,” said Ansgar Kadura, co-founder and CSO of Wingcopter. “With our new unmanned aerial vehicle, the Wingcopter 198, this can be carried out even more efficiently in the future.”

The flights were carried out by Greifswald University Medical Centre, in cooperation with DRF Luftrettung and Wingcopter, as part of the MV|LIFE|DRONE Challenge project of the hospital’s Department of Anesthesiology. The project was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Energy, Infrastructure and Digitalisation of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.

“We are continuing to work towards the goal of shortening long distances in the region for the benefit of our population. Key to this is the integration of new technologies into existing rescue and care systems as part of comprehensive care concepts,” added Dr. Mina Baumgarten, project manager of the MV|LIFE|DRONE-Challenge project.

“The next step on the way to realising this must be to transfer tests into longer-term use under real-world circumstances; the conditions in the region are ideal for this.”

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