Australian drone delivery company Swoop Aero is looking to transport COVID-19 test kits around Australia to reduce the need for human interaction during this time. Swoop Aero is working with the federal government and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to get the drones off the ground.
Melbourne-based Swoop Aero is currently in talks with the federal government and CASA to see if using drones to deliver COVID-19 test kits could be a viable option.
An economical option
Swoop Aero says that it can begin operating its drone deliveries within 72 hours of getting approval from the regulatory bodies, as the required infrastructure already exists. CEO Eric Peck said the company is planning to launch in Australia this year to support remote and rural communities. “It would work well with telehealth,” said Peck. “You could talk to your doctor on a tablet and get a testing kit delivered, self-administer the test, and then we would deliver it back.”
Swoop Aero’s drones can complete round trips of around 260 km (162 miles) and can carry up to 10 test kits or up to 50 vials of blood. The drones have a wingspan of 2.4m (nearly 8 feet) and are required to fly below 122m (about 400 feet) to ensure they don’t collide with manned aircraft. The flights would cost around AU$10 to $15 (US$6.45 to $9.67), which is significantly cheaper than manned transport over such a large distance.
Swoop Aero isn’t new to drone medical deliveries. They have been working with remote villages in Africa to deliver blood samples to hospitals, helping with the fight against measles, tuberculosis, and HIV, among other tasks. Since February, the company’s fleet size has doubled to keep up with the previous demand, and it will continue to grow.
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Photo: Swoop Aero