Rural areas in Queensland, Australia will soon benefit from Swoop Aero medical drone delivery. A new partnership between humanitarian drone delivery provider Swoop Aero, TerryWhite Chemmart, and Australia’s largest healthcare wholesaler Symbion, will trial remotely operated drone delivery of pharmaceuticals.
Trial flights of Swoop Aero medical delivery drones will begin soon in the town of Goondiwindi, located on the Queensland/New South Wales border. Swoop Aero is working with aviation authorities to ensure that all regulations are met during the trials.
“TerryWhite Chemmart Goondiwindi pharmacist Lucy Walker said she is delighted their community has been chosen to trial the delivery of medicines by drone,” says a Swoop Aero press release.
“Many of my customers live on farms or small towns in outlying areas. In some cases a visit to our pharmacy to collect their vital medicines may mean a three-hour round trip,” Ms. Walker said.
“With the ability to service people within a 130km range of Goondiwindi, this drone trial will provide enormous convenience and peace of mind for many of our customers.
“Importantly, we will learn a great deal from the trial, what works well, and what may need improving. We can use these learnings to not only fine tune the service to our community but also share with other regional TerryWhite Chemmart pharmacies around Australia who may be looking to investigate a drone delivery service.”
Drone Delivery of Medicine “Could Be of Critical Importance”
“The project is being funded by EBOS Group, the parent entity of Symbion, and underlines the company’s commitment to ensuring all Australians can access medicines no matter where they live and whatever their circumstances,” says the press release.
“Not only is this a very convenient option for the delivery of medicines for those living outside of ready access to their pharmacy but, as we saw during the terrible bushfires in Australia last summer, there were cases where road access to some homes and towns was completely shut off,” Symbion CEO Brett Barons said.
“To have a drone to provide deliveries of medicines could be of critical importance in situations where accessibility is limited.”
Swoop Aero has a history of delivering critical medical supplies in remote areas: operating in Malawi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and Vanuatu.
The Swoop Aero System
Eric Peck, CEO at Swoop Aero, says the company will bring everything its learned to the Queensland project. “When we’re dealing with medicines, security and safety are obviously key considerations and Swoop Aero is firmly committed to ensuring that safety is our number one priority. That is why we have designed a full aviation system around our drone technology, which is unique in its ability to scale.”
The Swoop Aero medical delivery drone can reach speeds of 115 km/h (about 71 mph) and importantly, can withstand extreme weather including heavy winds and rain. With a range of 130 km (about 80 miles) on a single charge, the drone will be able to reach anyone living within that radius of Goondiwindi.
“The drone will fly in and out of a central point in Goondiwindi with the flight path fully automated and approved by CASA [Australia’s aviation regulator], deliver the customers products, then return to base ready for its next job. After a little training, it is very easy to operate,” says Peck.
Swoop Aero’s system is designed not only to get the job done, but to provide minimal disruption to communities and minimize any privacy and security concerns.
“Our aircraft do not have on board cameras filming in flight but are instead guided by a three tiered communications system consisting of mobile internet, satellite communications and Data Link. The sound of one of our drones taking off is similar to a bus starting its engine, and lasts for only up to around 10 seconds until the plane reaches cruising altitude, at which point during normal cruise flight the noise is imperceptible over normal background noise.”