Matternet, the developer of an urban drone delivery platform, has received approval from the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt (LBA), Germany’s Federal Aviation Office, to operate the Matternet M2 drone delivery platform beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) in the heart of Berlin.
This marks the beginning of Berlin’s first ever BVLOS drone delivery network.
Labor Berlin, Europe’s largest hospital laboratory, provides diagnostics for 30 hospitals with more than 24,000 beds, including Charité, the largest university hospital in Europe and Vivantes, the largest municipal hospital group in Berlin.
Labor Berlin handles more than 6 million lab samples per year from satellite laboratories across Berlin in its central lab. The drone delivery network aims to connect Labor Berlin’s central lab to affiliated hospitals for ultra-fast delivery of critical samples in the densely populated city.
When fully operational, the network will serve millions of patients a year. Operations will formally begin early next year following clearance on federal state level.
Andreas Raptopoulos, founder and CEO of Matternet, says: “Healthcare systems need a fast, reliable and cost-effective solution to transport lab samples and pharmacy items to ensure patients receive best-in-class care.
“We are extremely excited to partner with Labor Berlin, Europe’s largest hospital laboratory, to create the first city-wide healthcare network in the capital of Germany and bring the benefits of drone delivery to the citizens of Berlin.”
The drone delivery network will target emergency diagnostics and will increase operational efficiency as well as cut down on carbon emissions from the nearly 250,000 miles per day that cars travel within the city.
Nina Beikert, Labor Berlin CEO, says: “Collaborating with Matternet enables us to enhance access to vital healthcare options through unmanned drone delivery, benefiting our patients and hospital network.
“These operations align with our dedication to innovation and sustainability as drone delivery not only accelerates emergency testing, but also enhances supply chain efficiencies while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Klaus Tenning, head of studies and collaborations and project leader for Labor Berlin, says: “After years of preparation and pioneering work, we are excited to execute our vision for a fully operational network of drones delivering samples throughout our hospital service – to further improve patient care.”
Matternet holds U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) Type Certification and Production Certification, as well as BVLOS operational approvals from the FAA and the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA), in addition to the German LBA approval now.
Matternet started delivering lab samples via drone in Switzerland in 2017 and in the US in 2019.
It has transported tens of thousands of specimens for Ospedale Regionale di Lugano, University Zürich Hospital and Stadtspital Zürich in Switzerland and, through its partnership with UPS, Wakemed Health and Wake Forest Baptist Health in the US.