Six months after getting mandatory approval from regulators, Swiss drone delivery company RigiTech began the first regular beyond visual line of sight (BVLOSL) operations in France on Monday, providing aerial shuttles of blood and biological samples between testing labs.
As DroneDJ reported at the time, Lausanne-based RigiTech initially obtained authorization for its BVLOS drone delivery project from France’s Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile in August, and has since been working toward launch of the service for medical laboratory company Biogroup. The operation will transport biological materials the 26 kilometers separating facilities in Bourgoin-Jallieu and Tignieu-Jameyzieu, using a regulator-approved aerial corridor.
The deliveries will be made using RigiTech’s Eiger drone, which can transport payloads of up to three kilograms, representing about 150 pre-conditioned blood vials. The company’s open-ended BVLOS waiver for the operation marked a first in France, and one of what were then rare approvals in the European Union.
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Since then, however, several drone delivery companies across the EU have obtained similar authorizations, with RigiTech itself having begun BVLOS transport of biological samples and supplies between healthcare facilities in Geneva.
Read more: RigiTech trials BVLOS medical drone delivery over Lake Geneva
RigiTech hopes the launch of its BVLOS drone delivery service for Biogroup in France will be the first link in an eventual future network connecting the firm’s 900 labs in France, Spain, and elsewhere in the EU. In achieving a French precedent, the occasion represents a red-letter event for both the company and European commercial UAV activity.
“We are extremely proud to announce we’ve achieved a major milestone in France, as the first drone delivery company able to start a daily BVLOS delivery service,” said RigiTech chief business officier David Rovira in a release. “The future of medical logistics is here and we’re leading the way. Kudos to our team of committed engineers, who have been able to combine innovation and efficiency with a strong safety-first approach.”
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RigiTech says its 15-minute aerial alternative to road transportation of blood products and biological samples between the Bourgoin-Jallieu and Tignieu-Jameyzieu labs in eastern France cuts about 50% off travel time. Its Geneva operation – which overflies the city’s enormous lake – slices a full 90 minutes from car or van deliveries.