Leonardo, Telespazio and Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital test the use of drones for sanitary material delivery

Rome   22 October 2020 14:45

  • Biological samples and biomedical products have been transported for more than 30 km with a remotely piloted aircraft with electric propulsion. Advantages: minor ecological and acoustic impact, reduced times, and costs
  • With the T-DROMES digital platform, used within this test, Telespazio is able to provide services built on a "drone as a service" business model

  • Laurent Sissmann, SVP Unmanned Systems of Leonardo: “With the skills we are developing, we want to support the country to reach a leading role in drone-based operations and services, in line with the goals of the 'Be Tomorrow - Leonardo 2030’ strategic plan" 

  • Airspace safety is granted by D-Flight, the U-Space platform developed and managed by ENAV together with Leonardo and Telespazio

The transportation of sanitary material with drones is the goal of the test, which has just been successfully completed, designed and undertaken by Leonardo, Telespazio (joint venture between Leonardo 67% and Thales 33%) and Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital, in collaboration with ENAC (National Civil Aviation Authority).

This is one of the first demonstrations in Italy of biological samples and biomedical products delivery, along routes not easily accessible by ordinary roads, with the aid of vertical take-off drones equipped with electric propulsion and therefore with a very low ecological and acoustic impact.

Rehearsals took place between the 19 and 22 October. The drone transported sanitary material flying near Rome, between two sites of the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital which are more than 32 km away from each other: from the S. Marinella collection centre to the Palidoro analysis centre and vice versa, using an automatic control mode beyond the operator’s visual line of sight (BVLOS).

The test involved the use of Telespazio's cloud-based T-DROMES digital platform, which allows the provision of end-to-end services: from planning to conducting the mission of a drone, up to the processing of data acquired by the on-board sensors.

We are pleased with this milestone,which was achieved thanks to partners of excellence such as the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital, Telespazio and through the collaboration of ENAC. The project is part of Leonardo's path of innovation and experimentation in Advanced Air Delivery, of which another fundamental element is the D-FLIGHT platform for the management of drone air traffic, realised with ENAV”, Laurent Sissmann, SVP Unmanned Systems of Leonardo commented. " Leonardo is committed to serving and protecting communities, contributing to their sustainable growth by leading in next generation technologies. Partnering with governments, private organisations and industries for the best security and safety capabilities is a cornerstone of Leonardo’s BeTomorrow2030 Strategic Plan and the investment in autonomous systems is in line with our growth strategies. In particular, with the skills we are developing in this field, we want to support the country to reach a leading role in the development of drone-based operations and services”.

We are very happy to be able to collaborate with Leonardo on such an innovative projectMariella Enoc, President of the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital declared - We strongly wanted to start the experimentation in this pandemic period, which requires all health professionals to strongly 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”.

"Remotely piloted aircraft - said the Director General of ENAC, Alessio Quaranta - represent one of the driving forces of the current industrial revolution to which the scientific and industrial communities around the world are watching with interest. Being able to use them for health and social purposes makes these tools even more essential for the sustainable development of our society. The release of the authorization that allowed the test is the result of an important support activity to the development of the operational concept project and to the technical evaluation carried out by ENAC and the institutional coordination with all the actors involved, for the execution of the operations in a particularly complex context such as that of the terminal area of ​​Rome which includes approaches and departures from the airports of Fiumicino and Ciampino. A special thanks from us to the Ministry of the Interior, the Prefecture of Rome, the Rome Police Headquarters, the Air Force, the Italian Army, the Port Authority and the Coast Guard, ENAV, the 118 Rescue Service, the Municipality of Santa Marinella, the Municipality of Fiumicino, as well as, of course, to Leonardo, Telespazio and the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital”.

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 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 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.

Finishing in December 2020, the testing campaign includes several additional phases, in which various types of remotely piloted aircraft will be used. The long-term objective is to be able to extend the service in a densely populated urban environment, by connecting the headquarters of Palidoro to the other Bambino Gesù sites in Rome.