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Swiss Post begins transporting laboratory samples for Insel Gruppe

Communication dated 05.06.2018

Following on from Lugano, transport drones will now fly in the capital city of Berne: Swiss Post is currently working together with drone manufacturer Matternet to evaluate the link between the Tiefenau hospital and University Hospital Insel. The drones transport lab samples in an quick and efficient manner, which saves doctors and patients crucial time compared to couriers on the road. Drone flights will also be taking place in Zurich in the near future.

In the pilot project in Berne, the drone connects the central laboratory at the Inselspital hospital with the hospital in Tiefenau. “When lab samples need to be transported as quickly as possible from A to B, every minute counts. This is why this pilot project is so visionary”, says Uwe E. Jocham, Insel Gruppe’s CEO. The laboratory samples are currently transported by courier. For urgent cases, Insel Gruppe uses a taxi. “Within two weeks, we want to evaluate whether the use of the drone offers real added value to them and, ultimately, to patients,” says Claudia Pletscher, Head of Development & Innovation at Swiss Post.

To ensure that the results are as informative as possible, the drone is being deployed on at least ten effective flight days over two weeks. The flights will then be jointly evaluated and Insel Gruppe will decide whether to use drones for day-to-day transportation of lab samples in the future. Following the evaluation of the route in Berne (Insel Gruppe), Swiss Post will look into a further route between the main laboratory, ZLZ Zentrallabor Zürich, and the ZLZ emergency laboratory at the Hirslanden Klinik Im Park.

Swiss Post consolidates its pioneering role in drone logistics

Swiss Post is one of the first companies in the world to operate autonomous drones in transport for commercial use, in conjunction with Matternet. With the new transport routes in Berne and Zurich, Swiss Post is once again demonstrating its pioneering role in drone logistics and its innovative strength. For Swiss Post, the drone as a logistics solution is particularly attractive over the last mile. The focus is on the transport of special consignments in the medical sector or the delivery of supplies to places cut off from the outside world after a storm. In the future, drones will complement mail carriers sensibly, but they will not replace them. Swiss Post is also testing other autonomous systems, including for example intelligent shuttles.

Talks with FOCA, Skyguide and air force

In March 2017, Swiss Post and Matternet presented the first drone connection between two hospitals in Lugano to the public. The second phase of the project in Lugano started in early October (see press release). The interim results look very positive: the drone has now completed more than 1,000 flights without incident. Since the initial tests, there has been a great deal of interest in the use of the drones in the medical sector. With the experience gathered, Swiss Post can now offer this service to other partners in the healthcare sector – in close consultation with other users of our airspace, the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA), which is responsible for regulation, the Swiss Air Force and Skyguide. FOCA has been involved in the project from the outset: it has inspected the drone and its safety components, defined the legal conditions for flying it, and now granted Swiss Post and Matternet approval for the flights in Berne and Zurich.

Note to editors:

  • The project in Zurich will be presented live this summer on a separate occasion.
  • You can find photos and videos of the drones in the online version of this press release at www.swisspost.ch/news. Additional information on drone logistics at Swiss Post can be found at www.swisspost.ch/drones.

About Insel Gruppe

With its six locations in the canton of Berne, Insel Gruppe is Switzerland’s leading medical care system, treating around 500,000 patients from more than 120 nations each year. The core of the range of services offered is a graduated care model: patients receive the treatment that is ideal for them close to their home and in the shortest possible time. The highly specialized Inselspital hospital guarantees access to the latest developments and methods in all fields of medicine at all times.

With more than 10,750 employees, Insel Gruppe is one of the largest employers in the Berne region. The hospital group is also an important basic and advanced training institution for young doctors and a large number of other occupations. Insel Gruppe operates the Inselspital hospital, University Hospital of Berne, Spital Tiefenau hospital and the rural hospitals in Aarberg, Belp, Münsingen and Riggisberg.

About Matternet

Matternet is the developer of the world’s leading technology platform for on-demand aerial delivery in urban areas. The company provides its technology platform as a service to healthcare, e-commerce and logistics organizations. In March 2017, Matternet became the first company in the world to receive authorization for full operations of drone logistics networks over densely populated areas in Switzerland. In May 2018 Matternet was tasked with implementing the first drone logistics operation for US hospitals as part of the FAA’s drone integration programme.

Information:

Swiss Post Media Unit, Jacqueline Bühlmann, +41 58 341 37 80, presse@swisspost.ch
Insel Gruppe Media Unit, Franziska Ingold, +41 31 632 79 25, kommunikation@insel.ch
Matternet Media Unit, +1 650 260 27 27, press@matternet.us