Swoop Aero to launch health care drone deliveries in New Zealand

Swoop Aero deliveries Zealand

Australian drone delivery and logistics company Swoop Aero is preparing to initiate beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) services for New Zealand’s health care system, initially operating flights of lab samples between the South Island west coast towns of Westport and Greymouth.

Swoop Aero announced its health care delivery launch after the green light it said it received in late December to conduct BVLOS drone flights from New Zealand’s regulator. Those missions transporting pathology samples and blood products between labs and care centers in the neighboring country is in many ways an extension of the work Melbourne-based Swoop Aero is already doing in Australia’s Queensland.

Read: Swoop Aero to create ‘world’s largest’ drone delivery network in Queensland 

In December, the company said it had begun building what it called “the world’s first, and largest, fully integrated drone logistics network” of both medicines and commercial goods. That will eventually roll in drone deliveries of patient lab samples and medical supplies to the Queensland town of Goondiwindi – which has been battered by flooding and other extreme weather – and similar aerial shuttles between Brisbane and the Moreton Bay islands off its eastern coast.

Now Swoop Aero is readying those kinds of drone delivery services for Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand. The company says the initial bilateral network between Westport and Greymouth will be orchestrated from its remote flight center, where one person can pilot up to five UAVs at the same time. 

The company won approval from Australian regulators to open the Melbourne facility last year, which it uses to conduct some of the UAV transport business it does for governments and private clients around the world, including Europe and Africa.

Read moreSwoop Aero gets okay in Oz for global remote drone pilot center 

After its first drone delivery routes in New Zealand become fully operational in coming weeks, Swoop Aero says it will work with regulators to study expanding the activity across the nation as a means of speeding up sample analyses and patient diagnoses when time is critical.

“This technology has been trialed successfully overseas, and the new service between Greymouth and Westport will help establish whether drones could play a future role in the movement of time-sensitive medications, specimens, and other medical goods across the country,” said Te Whatu Ora National director of improvement and innovation Dale Bramley. “The use of drone technology offers the potential to reduce transport times, particularly in places such as Auckland where traffic congestion is a major issue. We will watch with interest to assess the benefits of a potential wider rollout.”

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