An experiment carried out by Leonardo, Telespazio and Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital, in collaboration with ENAC (National Civil Aviation Authority) for the transport of healthcare materials near Rome, was successfully completed.
A VTOL hybrid drone, an aircraft capable of taking off and landing vertically and flying with the aerodynamic efficiency characteristic of aircraft, was used to transport healthcare materials near Rome over a distance of more than 30 km in BVLOS mode (acronym for Beyond Visual line of Sight).
This is one of the first demonstrations in Italy of delivery of biological samples and biomedical products on routes that are not easily accessible by ordinary roads, with the help of vertical take-off drones equipped with electric propulsion and therefore with very low ecological and acoustic impact. The tests took place between 19 and 22 October.
The drone transported medical material by flying near Rome between two sites of the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital more than 32 km away: from the S. Marinella collection centre to the analysis centre in Palidoro and vice versa, using an automatic control mode beyond the operator’s field of vision.
The experiment involved the use of Telespazio’s T-DROMES cloud-based digital platform, which enables end-to-end services to be provided: from planning to the execution of a drone mission, right through to the processing of data acquired by on-board sensors.
As part of the demonstration, 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) with the participation of Leonardo and Telespazio.
Thanks to the services that will be progressively made available by D-FLIGHT, it will be possible for traditional aviation and thousands of drones to coexist in Italian airspace, which in the future will be entrusted with the most diverse tasks. D-FLIGHT so confirms its position as one of the first operational U-Space platforms in Europe.
The testing campaign foresees several successive phases, in which various types of remotely controlled aircraft will be used; it will end in December 2020. The long-term objective is to be able to extend the service also in a densely populated urban environment, connecting the hospital’s Palidoro site with those in Rome.