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Medical transport drones Drone carrying blood falls in lake during test

Swiss Post delivery drone in flight

Switzerland is pioneering the use of drone couriers, especially for exchange of medical samples between hospitals and laboratories. 

(Keystone)

A drone carrying a blood sample has fallen into Lake Zurich during the test phase of a medical deliveries programme.

No-one was hurt, but divers did not manage to recover the drone on Friday and the cause of the accident was not known. The drone was carrying a non-vital blood sample between a clinic and a laboratory on the other side of the lake.

Swiss Post said it was suspending its drone transport flights for Lugano and Zurich university hospital until the cause was found. It said “postal drones” have so far carried out more than 3,000 flights without accident in Lugano, Zurich and Berne.

Two hospitals in Lugano were the first to start using drones in 2017 to exchange lab samples. They say it saves them a lot of time, which can be vital in a case where, for example, a patient under anaesthetic needs a blood sample analysed quickly.

+ Read more about Switzerland and drone couriers

The World Economic Forum (WEF) meanwhile published a guideexternal link on Friday to help governments regulate drone deliveries, saying Switzerland could become a model for other countries in this field.

Thanks to the WEF guide, governments “will not have to start from scratch to develop their regulations on drones,” says its author Harrison Wolf, who led the project at the WEF Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolutionexternal link.  The “toolbox” draws on successful pilot projects in Switzerland, Rwanda and Malawi.

In a statement on Friday the director of the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviationexternal link, Christian Hegner, said he was “very proud” of Switzerland’s contribution to this programme. “We have learned a lot in the last few years,” he said. “Sharing our expertise and learning from other countries will help speed up and extend drone security around the world.”

Keystoned-SDA/RTS/jc

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SWI swissinfo.ch on Instagram

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