In an exciting test run, Vodafone deployed a networked 5G drone at the University Hospital of Düsseldorf Düsseldorf. In a test flight, nutrient solutions were provided to premature infants. In the process, the test served as an example of the logistics of the future, which enabled real-time mobile communications thanks to 5G+.
Vodafone 5G drone as courier service
In everyday hospital life, precise and well-planned logistics can sometimes make the difference between life and death. Especially when important medications are brought promptly to where they are needed at the moment. On the approximately 40-hectare site of the University Hospital Düsseldorf (UKD), a pneumatic tube system currently ensures this in many cases.
However, since this fast system can only be used to access new buildings through complex and cost-intensive construction measures, Vodafone and the UKD have jointly launched a test run of a 5G drone as a courier service to supply the pediatric clinic building with medications from the central pharmacy, for example.
Drone covers 450 meters within 40 seconds
“We were thinking about innovative approaches to optimizing logistical processes,” says Dr. Westhoff, head of the central pharmacy at the UKD. Issued goal was to test the automation of routine processes to enable reliable and fast transport by air in the future, where it makes sense.
To this end, they jointly launched an initial test on a 5G drone courier service. The focus was on transporting parenteral nutrition for premature babies at the children’s hospital, which is prepared daily in the central pharmacy.
Within just 40 seconds, the drone covered the distance of 450 meters in the process and landed on the roof of the children’s hospital with the nutrition. “Thanks to real-time network, such a flight would already be possible today completely autonomously and without manual control,” writes Vodafone in the report.
This is made possible by the 5G+ network including real-time mobile communications, which, according to the operator, reacts just as quickly as the human nervous system. The care of premature infants at the UKD is just one of many potential areas of application.
Drugs could be transported to all buildings within a very short time via the direct air route of the university hospital. Safe, reliable and completely autonomous. But the number of drones in commercial use has also risen sharply in other industries in recent years.
As shown in a 2021 study by the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Association, said number increased by 138 percent to 45,200 drones within the period between 2019 and 2021. By 2025, nearly 1.5 million networked drones could be flying through Western European airspace, and by 2030, the figure could be as high as 4.3 million drones – primarily in logistics and transportation.