Emergency Delivery of Blood by Drones?
The City of Aachen, the RWTH Institute of Flight System Dynamics, flyXdrive GmbH, and Droniq GmbH are collaborating in the international innovation project “Safe and Flexible Integration of Advanced U-Space Service for Medical Air Mobility,” SAFIR-Med for short.
The recently launched project is part of the Urban Air Mobility Initiative of the MAHHL cities - Maastricht, Aachen, Hasselt, Heerlen, and Liège. The aim is to support healthcare delivery by using unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, to transport medical supplies between hospitals in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion.
Delivery of Urgent Goods
Unmanned aerial systems are emerging as a promising solution for the fast and reliable transport of medical supplies. Compared to ground-based transport options, they are faster and more reliable, as they are not affected by traffic jams or road closures, for example. This is particularly important for medical goods such as blood reserves and tissue samples.
Emergency Delivery Across National Borders
The SAFIR-Med innovation project will research the conditions under which fast, safe and efficient emergency delivery of goods can become a life-saving routine, even across national borders. RWTH and flyXdrive are therefore investigating how unmanned, fully automated aerial vehicles can fly safely and reliably over longer distances, even at night and in difficult weather conditions. In collaboration with the aviation authorities of Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium, the flight systems and their flight routes are being adapted to meet all European and national requirements regarding safety, privacy, and environmental protection.
All flights in the MAHHL region will be continuously monitored by the Frankfurt-based company Droniq GmbH, with the support of partners from Belgium and the Netherlands. To this end, the company uses the Droniq UTM, a traffic management system for drones that provides the ground-based pilot with an integrated air picture of manned and unmanned aircraft.
During the first test flights, this will ensure that UAV does not pose any danger to aircraft or helicopters. Outside of Germany, a similar process is implemented with project partners from the Netherlands and Belgium, ensuring safe cross-border operation.
Driving Forward the Euroregion’s Urban Air Mobility Initiative
As coordinator of the UAM-MAHHL initiative, the City of Aachen coordinates the collaborative activities between the hospitals selected for the demonstration project, Uniklinik RWTH Aachen, Zuyderland Medical Center, Heerlen, and Maastricht University Medical Center+.
SAFIR-Med is only one of several projects coordinated by the City of Aachen in the Urban Air Mobility Initiative of the MAHHL cities, which aims to accelerate research on the practical application of drone and air taxi technologies and their subsequent implementation. From the outset, the initiative has focused on medical applications. Projects on cross-border search and rescue missions (GrenzFlug) and flying drone defibrillators (RescueCopter) have already been successfully carried out.
Project partners are the City of Aachen, the RWTH Institute of Flight System Dynamics, flyXdrive, Droniq, Future Needs Management Consulting, Skeyes, Unifly, AgentFly Technologies, Hellenic U-Space Institute, SkeyDrone, NSX, INVOLI, MAVlab at TU Delft, HyFly, SABCA, and EHang.
The consortium is coordinated by Helicus, a Belgium-based company that aims to operate integrated medical transport services between healthcare actors. The project is funded by Horizon 2020, the European Union's research and innovation program, under grant agreement No 101017701 in the call "SESAR-VLD2-03-2020: U-space capabilities and services to enable Urban Air Mobility".