Medical samples will soon be delivered by drones

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Norway is testing how to drone medical samples between two hospitals 100 kilometres apart. Røros Hospital is a branch of St Olavs Hospital in Trondheim. The hospital takes medical samples on a regular basis, but these often have to be analysed in Trondheim, 100 kilometres away. Currently, most of the samples are transported by car. However, the two institutions are 150 kilometres apart by road and the idea of another transport option becomes attractive, especially in winter. Entrepreneurs Herman Øie Kolden, Bernhard Paus Græsdal and Lars Erik Fagernæs are working on a new solution.

“We are building something that can change the situation and hopefully save lives. It’s really rewarding and motivating,” Fagernæs told Norwegian SciTech News.

The three entrepreneurs have expertise in drone development from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and MIT in Boston. They founded a company called Aviant, which shortly afterwards signed an agreement with St. Olavs Hospital to develop a solution for transporting biological samples between the two sites.

“We use pre-fabricated drones, but we replace most of the electronics with our own solutions,” said Fagernæs. The test flight between cities has already taken place. Using 4G, the drone flew a total of 120 kilometres at an altitude of 120 metres. The drone can deliver medical samples to their destination in half the time of a car, saving lives.

Currently, a ground operator must monitor the drone on a screen during its journey. “However, in the future, the idea is that this operator could track multiple drones simultaneously. Then it could save man-hours in addition to transport time,” says Fagernæs.

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