Case Study Medifly.

Medical transport using a drone.

Medical Use of Drones in Urban Areas

As part of medical interventions, it may become necessary to take tissue samples from the patient – so-called frozen sections – which must be examined by a pathologist during the operation. The aim is to determine whether all diseased tissue was removed during the operation. For this purpose, several samples are usually taken at different areas, individually packed and taken to the pathologist for diagnosis.

In fact, most hospitals no longer have their own pathology, so the tissue samples have to be transported by ambulance to the pathology department of another hospital. The operation is interrupted for the duration of the transport and diagnosis and is not resumed until the results are available. In the given case, the distance between the two hospitals is about 5 km (beeline) and it involves an urban area within the control zone of Hamburg Airport.

FlyNex, as an expert in drone projects, was responsible for eliminating all risks and ensuring a safe flight. FlyNex provided its digital map material, took care of the flight planning, and coordinated the approvals with the aviation authorities.

In order to test the transport, the Medifly-Hamburg project used a Globe UAV drone and took off from the Bundeswehr hospital in Wandsbek. The 10 kg special drone flew with the artificial tissue at a height of 75 meters, a distance of five kilometers, and took ten minutes for it. A speed of 40 km/h was used for the test, whereby 80 km/h would not pose a problem in real operation. Nonetheless, the drone was significantly faster than an ambulance. The blue-light transport on the same route takes an average of 15 minutes.

Facts & Figures

  • The device used was a 10 kg octocopter
  • Flight altitude was about 75 m
  • The aircraft flew at a speed of about 40 km/h
  • Flight duration: about 10 minutes with an artificial tissue
  • Route: 5 km beeline between the Bundeswehr hospital HH and Cathol. Marien Hospital HH
  • Movement in urban airspace during regular air traffic (rescue helicopters, airplanes)
  • Execution of a total of 6 flights in a row
  • Joint take-off and landing site of drone & helicopter

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