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Matternet Launches World’s Longest Urban Drone Delivery Route Connecting Hospitals and Laboratories in Zurich, Switzerland

Matternet, which develops drone delivery systems, has begun test operations on a five-kilometer BVLOS (beyond-visual-line-of-sight) route over the city of Zurich, Switzerland. The company said the route is the world’s longest drone delivery route over a major city and will be used to transport diagnostic samples between the Triemli and Waid Hospitals – both a part of Stadspital Zürich, a municipal central hospital owned by the city of Zurich.

“Launching this new service for Stadspital Zürich is an important moment for Matternet, but also for the future of both health care and logistics services,” said Andreas Raptopoulos, founder and CEO of Matternet. “Leveraging the longest urban BVLOS route to transport biological samples for diagnostic testing on-demand changes the way that hospitals and hospital systems can approach patient care, all while creating new efficiencies that can improve patient experiences and ensure that they keep pace with the demands of the 21st century.”

Using Matternet’s unmanned aircraft, transportation between the two hospitals and their laboratories takes just seven minutes. The test demonstrates the potential for drones to provide fast, on-demand delivery for individual urgent shipments, without congesting Zurich roads or emitting CO2, Matternet said. The drones transport medical items with secure end-to-end chain of custody and operate autonomously with remote supervision through Matternet’s Mission Control center in Zurich.

Currently, hospitals rely on ground transportation to deliver samples to laboratories for testing. This usually means that large batches are sent via car or van, which can result in significant delays. This approach also creates a major burden for lab staff with huge influxes of tests received at once instead of a steady flow throughout the day. Additionally, for urgent, single-patient diagnostic tests, hospitals also rely on vehicle-based couriers, which can be even slower and less efficient. In the U.S., Matternet recently received Type Certification and a production certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for their M2 drone.

“Switzerland has established itself as one of the most advanced countries in the world for scaled drone delivery operations,” said Raptopoulos. “This new route in Zurich – built on the foundation of five years of successful operations in Switzerland – will help us create insights into developing a city-wide medical network that can become a template for similar networks in Europe, the U.S., and beyond.”

In 2017, Matternet became the first company in the world to be authorized for commercial BVLOS operations of drone logistics networks over cities in Switzerland. In 2019, Matternet and UPS partnered to launch drone delivery services in the U.S. and together started the first revenue drone delivery operations in the U.S. In 2022, Matternet M2 became the first drone delivery system to achieve standard Type Certification by the Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S.

For more information on the company, visit the Matternet website here.


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