Drones 4 Life – Songbird UAV delivering medical samples

The Songbird successfully demonstrated the feasibility of long-range-medical-sample transportation in Västervik, Sweden this week. This demonstration was part of the EIT Digital project “Drones4Life”, which is conducted together with the DAI-Lab of TU Berlin, the Labor Berlin and our Swedish partner RISE.

Goal of the research is the transportation of urgent medical samples from hospitals to analysis facilities and saving vital time by avoiding road traffic. Moreover, thanks to versatile UAVs, it is conceivable to dispatch samples directly from a scene of an accident – when the patient arrives at the hospital the results are at hand and the treatment can begin.

Before such a system can reach maturity, there are still many operational and legal challenges to master, which have been discussed together with the partners in the EU-project. Germandrones is responsible particularly for the technical aspects of the study.

For this, the Songbird has been equipped with a special payload: The DAI-Lab’s companion computer is placed inside the fuselage, which processes data of two cameras, serves as a Sense-and-Avoid system and adds decision making to better control starting and landing.

The main component of the payload is the external transport container which can be filled with samples or the like and can easily be mounted underneath the fuselage. At the destination it is unlocked electronically so that the staff at site may remove the goods.

In the Swedish province Kalmar, several flights have now been conducted with this setup. In the process the UAV has also been operated beyond visual line of sight of the pilot and the ground station. For better monitoring, further observers have been in the field for now. The Songbird is, however, capable of flying longer distances and landing at the destination fully automatically. In the case of unknown terrain or weather conditions it is also possible that the control during take-off and landing may be taken over by a local pilot.

See the video here.