Leonardo, “a world leader in aerospace, defence and security” as well as a developer of unmanned systems, successfully trialled a drone deployment of “sanitary material” with partners Telespazio and the Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital, reports a company press release. This is “one of the first examples in Italy” where drones have been used to fly and deliver biological samples and biomedical products.
The trial took place between October 19th and 21st close to Rome, between two sites of the Children’s Hospital, 32 kms apart. From the S. Marinella collection centre to the Palidoro analysis department and vice-a-versa, using an autonomous, beyond the operator’s visual line of sight, drone. The flights involved the employment of Telespazio’s cloud-based T-DROMES digital platform alongside assistance from the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (Enac).
Laurent Sissmann, SVP Unmanned Systems of Leonardo, said, “The project is part of Leonardo’s path of innovation and experimentation in Advanced Air Delivery, partnering with governments, private organisations and industries for the best security and safety capabilities.”
He continued, “It is the cornerstone of Leonardo’s BeTomorrow2030 Strategic Plan and our investment in autonomous systems, of which another fundamental element is the D-FLIGHT platform for the management of drone air traffic, realised with ENAV.”
The Director General of ENAC, Alessio Quaranta, commented, “Remotely piloted aircraft represent one of the driving forces behind the current industrial revolution. Being able to use them for health and social purposes makes these tools even more essential for the sustainable development of our society.”
And added, “The successful trial is a result of ENAC’s support for a complex air travel region including the terminal area of Rome which includes approaches and departures from the airports of Fiumicino and Ciampino.”
As part of the experiment, the drone operators tested the U-Space geo-awareness and strategic deconfliction services provided by the D-FLIGHT platform, set up in 2018 by ENAV (the company that manages civil air traffic in Italy) together with Telespazio, a Leonardo and Thales 67/33 joint venture.
It will now be possible for traditional aviation and thousands of drones to co-exist in the Italian airspace as drones will be entrusted with the most diverse tasks in the future. D-FLIGHT is confirmed “as one of the first operational U-Spaces in Europe.”
The trials end in December, as they include several additional phases, in which various types of remotely piloted aircraft are to be used. The long-term objective is to extend the service in a densely populated urban environment, by connecting the headquarters of Palidoro to the other Bambino Gesù sites in Rome.
Mariella Enoc, President of the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital, declared, “We wanted to start the experimentation in this pandemic period, which requires all health professionals to accelerate the diagnostic pathways. This test will allow us to study the development of a service that can produce significant improvements in clinical and logistical processes, which will bring benefit to the entire regional and national health system in the future”.
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