Matternet, the developer of an urban drone delivery platform, has received approval from the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt (LBA), Germany’s Federal Aviation Office, to initiate beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations in central Berlin. This approval marks the inception of Berlin’s BVLOS drone delivery network.
This development aims to connect Labor Berlin, Europe’s largest hospital laboratory, with 13 hospitals, including Charité and Vivantes, prominent healthcare facilities in the city. Labor Berlin manages diagnostics for 30 hospitals with over 24,000 beds and handles more than 6 million lab samples annually.
The primary goal is to facilitate rapid and efficient transportation of critical lab samples between Labor Berlin’s central lab and its affiliated hospitals in the densely populated city. Once fully operational, the network is projected to significantly impact millions of patients annually. The formal commencement of operations is slated for early next year, pending clearance at the federal state level.
Andreas Raptopoulos, Founder and CEO of Matternet, emphasized the significance of this initiative in advancing healthcare logistics: “Healthcare systems need a fast, reliable, and cost-effective solution to transport lab samples and pharmacy items to ensure patients receive best-in-class care. We are extremely excited to partner with Labor Berlin…to bring the benefits of drone delivery to the citizens of Berlin.”
Apart from bolstering emergency diagnostics, the drone network is anticipated to streamline operations and mitigate carbon emissions resulting from the extensive daily travel of vehicles within the city, estimated at nearly 250,000 miles.
Nina Beikert, Labor Berlin CEO, highlighted the potential impact on patient care: “Collaborating with Matternet enables us to enhance access to vital healthcare options through unmanned drone delivery, benefiting our patients and hospital network. These operations align with our dedication to innovation and sustainability…”
Klaus Tenning, Head of Studies and Collaborations and Project Leader for Labor Berlin, expressed excitement about the prospect of a fully operational drone network, envisioning its role in advancing patient care.
Matternet’s track record includes U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) certifications and successful operations in Switzerland and the United States, involving partnerships with notable healthcare facilities like Ospedale Regionale di Lugano, University Zürich Hospital, Stadtspital Zürich, Wakemed Health, and Wake Forest Baptist Health.
The approval from the German Aviation Office is the latest milestone for Matternet, which commenced its drone delivery services in Switzerland in 2017 and expanded to the United States in 2019, contributing significantly to the transportation of tens of thousands of specimens for various healthcare institutions.