A partnership between the German drone manufacturer Wingcopter and the aeromedical service provider Air Methods could soon start the first drone-based, health-specific delivery network in the USA.
The network, known as Spright, would address the lack of instant or timely access to health resources such as blood, medicines, diagnostics, and small medical devices. Air Methods will deploy fleets of Wingcopter’s new flagship delivery drone, the Wingcopter 198, and integrate them into the company’s existing infrastructure at more than 300 bases serving hundreds of hospitals in 48 states, primarily in rural areas.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated some of the real challenges facing our health system and created the opportunity to find better solutions to expand access to health care, especially in rural America,” said JaeLynn Williams, CEO of Air Methods.
“That’s why we’re doing what Air Methods does best, taking to the skies, using the latest technology and drone innovation, giving hope and enabling healing at previously unimaginable speed and efficiency. We see Spright serve a severely underserved market and play a huge role in a future of better outcomes for everyone. “
Kansas pilot project
Spright is slated to kick off this fall through a partnership with Hutchinson Regional Medical System in Kansas and launch an initial pilot project with Wingcopter’s delivery drones. The drones’ tilt-rotor technology makes it easy to take off and land vertically with forward flight over ranges of up to 68 miles with a top speed of 150 mph and payloads of up to 13 pounds.
“We are excited to partner with Air Methods to build a life-saving drone delivery network in the United States,” said Tom Plümmer, CEO of Wingcopter.
“Our technology is used around the world to effectively deliver medicines, for example insulin in Ireland, children’s vaccines in Vanuatu, emergency medication in Malawi and, more recently, blood samples in Germany. Our vision to save and improve lives blends perfectly with Air Methods’ legacy of providing life-saving care combined with Spright’s drive to improve the quality of health care in the United States through the use of Wingcopter fleets, and we look forward to it looking forward to scaling this together. “
Building on the successes of the past
Last year, Wingcopter was named one of nine winners of Germany’s world’s leading hackathon to boost humanitarian drone delivery in the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
In February 2020, Wingcopter won first place in the Emergency Delivery category at the World Bank sponsored Lake Kivu Challenge in Rwanda.
In March 2020, the company announced a collaboration with UPS Flight Forward to develop a next-generation delivery drone solution for parcels. The duo will next apply for regulatory approval for an unmanned Wingcopter aircraft to operate commercial delivery flights in the United States.
In addition to the UPSFF partnership, Wingcopter is also working on a drone delivery program with the pharmaceutical giant Merck. The pilot program will transport pigment samples from a Merck site in Gernsheim, Germany, to a laboratory in Darmstadt – a distance of 25 kilometers. In 2019, Wingcopter worked with researchers from NUI Galway, Ireland to complete the world’s first BVLOS shipment of prescription drugs and blood samples for diabetes care.
Jason is a longtime DroneLife employee with a passionate interest in anything technology related. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; Police, fire brigade, search and rescue services.
Jason began his career as a journalist in 1996 and has since written and edited thousands of exciting news articles, blog posts, press releases, and online content.
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