Drones to transport laboratory samples

Zurich – Drones will soon transport laboratory samples from University Hospital Zurich to the Irchel campus at the University of Zurich. The project, which will be tested by Swiss Post over the coming year, aims to halve transport times for laboratory samples.

Swiss Post will transport laboratory samples by drone on behalf of University Hospital Zurich (USZ) and the University of Zurich (UZH) as of 10 December. The drones will fly autonomously from one location to the other along a 2.5-kilometre-long route: from a roof terrace on the north wing of USZ to the UZH’s Irchel campus. Where possible, the drones will transport the laboratory samples over forested areas, according to a press release from Swiss Post.

Compared to a courier on the road, drones can transport laboratory samples to their destination twice as quickly.

“We are integrating drones into our logistics chain because we can transport laboratory samples quicker and with greater flexibility,” said Renate Grörger, director of operations at USZ. “This does not just shorten waiting times for our patients but also for the doctors and other healthcare professionals in the hospital.”

Around five to ten flights will take place on weekdays as part of the project, which is envisaged to last one year.

Swiss Post is collaborating with the California-based drone manufacturer Matternet on the project. The two partners have already carried out several pilot projects, for instance transporting laboratory samples in Lugano and Geneva or in Zurich for the main laboratory of Zentrallabor Zürich.

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