Matternet is a U.S.-based drone delivery startup that recently partnered with a hospital group in southern Switzerland. Swiss Post has contracted with the company to begin a commercial drone delivery network for medical samples that could be in action as soon as this month.
The primary focus will be transporting lab samples amongst the group’s hospitals. It began testing the use of Matternet’s system in 2015 as a way to obtain faster lab results and avoid potential road traffic delays when working with sensitive medical samples needing timely attention.
The system uses Matternet’s M2 drone that can carry payloads weighing up to 4.5 pounds as far as 12 miles at speeds of up to 43 mph.
Matternet’s proprietary, cloud-based software platform also allows for receiving customer requests, generating routes, and monitoring drone performance.
The drones connect with universal stations at each location that feature an interface which manages the sending and receiving of packages. These stations contain a drawer where new packages are placed and labeled with a QR code that tells the drone where it needs to be delivered.
The drones and base stations can also communicate with each other via a cloud-based network to avoid collisions amongst multiple incoming or outgoing drones. A small storage bay also retrieves and exchanges batteries before allowing the drone to depart.
The company’s next steps include exploring partnerships with logistics companies throughout Europe when the drone regulatory climate is a bit more friendly than the U.S.