Dutch technology company Avy has announced the launch of its autonomous Aera Drone Response Network, designed for medical deliveries and support emergency services during critical incidents.
The technology is intended to provide a more efficient alternative for the transport of time and condition-sensitive medicines, particularly for emergency situations, and is expected to enter commercial use from the first quarter of 2022.
Approximately US$30 billion of time-sensitive medicines arrive damaged due to overexposure or delays during transport every year, citing research by pharmaceutical monitoring solutions provider Pharma-Mon.
Avy says it is currently working with launch partners including Danish emergency and healthcare services provider Falck, Dutch blood bank Sanquin and Dutch postal services provider PostNL, mobility and insurance provider Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB) and CHC Helicopter to deploy the technology.
“As launch partners we have entered into an innovative collaboration to benefit the healthcare sector. Our intention with the new aircraft is to transport diagnostic samples and medicine in remote areas in Europe,” said Nicolai Laugesen, Falck’s Head of Bid and Commercial Excellence.
Wide coverage and fast deployment times
The system employs a network of drones and docking stations to provide medical and logistics support over a wide area.
The autonomous drone can be deployed in minutes and can autonomously carry up to 3kg of medical goods over distances of 100km.
The aircraft is weather resistant and can operate in rain and winds of up to 45km/h, and can be equipped with a suite of redundant sensors and communications links. It meets UN standards for aerial transport of medical goods, as well as EU drone regulations.
Avy says that the Drone Response Network can centrally command multiple drones at once and link several docking stations together to act as nodes to enable drones to cover an even wider combined area and provide ‘real-time information to first responders’.
The company states that ‘in a scenario where two drone stations and two drones are placed strategically, the network can cover an area of 1000 km2’.
The drone is equipped with Aera’s MedKit solution, which provides four liters of capacity and is equipped with sensors for immediate assessment of medical products. The MedKit can keep medical products cooled to between 2-6°C for at least 100 minutes in ambient temperatures of up to 40°C. It is suitable for the delivery of medicines, blood products, vaccines and other medical applications. The Avy Aera can also be integrated with a high zoom color and thermal camera system, and can be used to quickly detect wildfires, spot people in distress at sea, monitor oil spills and assess the situation on the ground.