Matternet Station to serve as drone delivery hub for hospitals
Last year, drone logistics company Matternet teamed up with UPS to fly medical samples between labs and a hospital in North Carolina. Now the Californian startup has revealed the Matternet Station, where medical personnel can drop off samples for delivery by drone.
"Our vision is to connect every healthcare facility in every metropolitan area with the fastest transportation method available today," said the company's Andreas Raptopoul. "We are building the technology platform for extremely fast, point-to-point, urban medical delivery, enabling hospital systems to shrink patient waiting times and save millions of dollars per year through the centralization of laboratories and medical inventory. The Matternet Station is a very important part of the ecosystem for making this vision a reality."
The futuristic drone station works with Matternet's autonomous M2 drone and its cloud platform to facilitate the secure transport of medical payloads to and from hospital campuses.
A physician needing to get a sample to the lab, for example, packs it into a box, sets up the delivery and then has the package dropped off at the loading bay on the side of the Station's structure. The package moves inside the Station, is picked up by the awaiting drone within and the roof opens like a flower and off flies the M2 carrying its cargo.
When it reaches its destination, the drone is automatically guided to the landing pad of the lab's Station and is locked inside the 10-ft (3-m)-tall structure's dome, where its battery is swapped out for a freshly charged one and its payload offloaded. The lab receives an alert, a logged facility ID is scanned at the hub's loading bay and the package is presented for testing.
Each Station can accommodate up to four packages at any one time, which are kept at a controlled temperature, and one drone. The structure can manage drone traffic overhead thanks to an automated aerial conflict avoidance system, and it is also connected to Matternet's cloud platform so that mission operators can remotely keep track of operations and drone health.
Matternet expects the service to operate around the clock and accommodate the safe transport of blood diagnostics, pathology specimens, medicine and so on. It is currently seeking FAA certification for its M2 drone and cloud platform, and its services are being made available to hospitals through an annual subscription. The video below has more.