Danish 'Health Drone' Makes Maiden Voyage to Deliver Blood Samples

According to Falck, the business that controls the health drone, the plan could simply be expanded to other routes as well. Furthermore, it imagined manned drone flights to transport health workers "within three to five years."

According to Danish Radio, a so-called "health drone" conducted its inaugural journey in Denmark, bringing blood samples and medication between Svendborg on the island of Funen and the island of Vis. 

A control room in Copenhagen directed the 50-kilometer, 40-minute flight.

The 100-kilometer-range battery-powered health drone can carry a payload of 2.5 kilos. It can reach a height of 80 meters with a wing span of 2.8 meters. It has a parachute in case of a communication failure or an accident.

Prior to the arrival of health drones, blood samples obtained on r had to be driven by vehicle and sailed by boat to the Funen archipelago laboratory, which presented logistical restrictions.

“So far it is still a test flight, but where we think the drones can make a difference in the future, it is that we can fly things back and forth between Ærø and Funen at a time when ferries don'tnormally sail”, Bjarne Dahler-Eriksen, medical director at Odense University Hospital, told Danish Radio.

According to him, the drone route might also be utilized to transport vital equipment on schedule.

He says that not just blood samples must be flown from r to a Funen laboratory. It might also include medication, equipment, or specific treatments in the event of an accident that is flown in some form.

Dahler-Eriksen anticipates that the concept will be expanded in the long run, so that residents of other islands or distant regions may benefit from health drones.

Kjeld Jensen, associate professor at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) Drone Centre and health drone project manager, described the flight as “a big step in the direction of scaling up drones” because it did not take place in a restricted area but rather alongside other air traffic. 

According to Nicolai Søndergaard Laugesen, development director at Falck, one of the firms behind the health drone, its capacity to fly in the open air means it can easily be extended to other routes. Simultaneously, he envisions new traffic laws in the future, when drones will be merged with helicopters and other vehicles.

“If we look a little further ahead, it is not an awfully long time for manned drones to arrive which will fly paramedics or doctors to a site of injury”, Søndergaard Laugesen speculated. According to him, manned drones may become reality “within three to five years”.