Three hospitals have launched Poland’s first regular long-haul drone delivery service

These will fly between Warsaw and the towns of Pułtusk and Sochaczew.

After successful tests that began in autumn 2020, the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (PANSA), a state body, has allowed for regular shuttles starting on 17 February. Six or seven flights are planned daily.

The regular service will run along approximately 60-kilometre routes connecting the Czerniakowski hospital in Warsaw with hospitals in the Pułtusk and Sochaczew, which are north and west of the capital respectively.

The vertical take-off drones will fly at an altitude of 100 metres above the ground and travel at an airspeed of 72 kilometres/hour. Last year. drones were used on shorter distances of 7km to connect hospitals in Warsaw, including the COVID-19 field hospital at the national stadium.

According to Maciej Włodarczyk, who heads the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) coordination department at PANSA, the main goal of the project is to shorten the delivery time of medical samples, reports local news service Nasze Miasto.

The drones may carry samples of blood or material for coronavirus tests, according to Gazeta Wyborcza. However, TOK FM notes that Polish regulations do not provide for blood and tissue samples to be transported by unmanned vehicles, and so the service may be used to transport medical equipment.

The company operating the flights will be responsible for their safety, as well as granting the right of way to other airspace users, according to PANSA. The drones will be centrally controlled from the headquarters of the entity overseeing the flight.

Once the shuttle lands, hospital employees will be tasked with placing the medical load in a special container, changing the drone’s power pack, and performing a general check.

PANSA has appealed to users of airspace in the area to be “particularly careful” when planning and operating flights. It noted in a press release that the drones would avoid landing sites and areas used by paragliders and motor gliders.