Drones

Swoop and Mater Medical Testing in Queensland

Swoop Aero Partners with Mater Group for Faster Medical Testing in Queensland

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

A new partnership between Mater Group and Swoop Aero will see integrated drone logistics networks begin transporting pathology samples from the Moreton Bay islands to Mater Pathology testing labs.

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Forming Australia’s first drone-enabled pathology collection network, the partnership will allow samples to reach Mater for testing up to six hours sooner.

The network is expected to gather over 80,000 pathology samples each year from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service patients, as well as patients from Stradbroke Island, Russell Island, Macleay Island and other Moreton Bay islands serviced by Mater Pathology, and the Redlands and Hope Island on the Gold Coast. Last year, Swoop Aero began operating in Goondiwindi, Queensland in 2021 to transport routine prescriptions to remote patients.

“Depending on ferry services, it can take up to six hours to get samples for testing back to Mater from Straddie and the other islands,” said Deb Hornsby, General Manager of Mater Pathology. “With the huge increase in testing caused by COVID, there was a pressing need to speed up our collection services – and that’s when we approached Swoop Aero. Drones are safe, reliable and so much faster than ferries and cars – which means we save valuable time in diagnosing and treating vulnerable patients.”

Swoop Aero has received advanced operational approvals in 14 countries and carried out 20,000 operational flights since it was founded in 2017. After obtaining FAA type certification, the company’s Kite aircraft fleet will travel over 175 kilometers across the Brisbane area on just a single battery charge, transporting up to 10 lbs of medical cargo. Swoop Aero drones fly below commercial aircraft altitudes, and flight path approvals will be granted by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

“We have a big vision for Queensland,” said Swoop Aero CEO Eric Peck. “By leveraging the most advanced technology-based platform on the market, Swoop Aero will unlock the skies to enable Mater to drive forward the next era of pathology transportation.”

Currently, the partners are pursuing federal support for the pilot project via an Emerging Aviation Technology Partnership (EATP) Grant. Should they succeed, drone operations will commence in the Moreton Bay area in 2023, with further initiatives potentially including medical deliveries to aged care homes by Mater Pharmacy.

“Mater is at the forefront of healthcare innovation in Queensland,” said Mater Director of Innovation Maree Knight. “The use case for pathology-sample drone transport is clear and will alleviate pressures on the health system to deliver timely, effective and quality healthcare.”

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Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.

TWITTER: @spaldingbarker

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