"This is not a technology searching a way of use, but a service for people and society. We help solving a great challenge for the health sector."
- Børre Eimhjellen, CEO Airlift Solutions AS
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Airlift Solutions AS links aviation expertise with logistics expertise in order to be able to offer future logistics solutions in the air - with the use of new technology.

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Building drones to transport blood samples

In the future, drones can be the new way to transport blood samples in Norwegian health care. Through an innovation project several health companies are exploring how this can be done.

Text written by: Hilde Garlid, Innovasjonspark Stavanger

Translated by: Jofrid Åsland, Norwegian Smart Care Cluster

Photo: Airlift Solutions

– We believe that the new hospital in Stavanger can be the first hospital in Norway transporting laboratory samples by drones, says Børre Eimhjellen, CEO Airlift Solutions AS.

The company Airlift Solutions AS is a member of the ecosystem Norwegian Smart Care Cluster. They have experience from the power industry and are providing services with drones for the oil industry. The company are now entering the health sector to provide technology for more efficient use of resources.

In this project the company are cooperating with four health institutions and the hospital pharmacy in western Norway. The innovation project is granted 20 million NOK. The goal is to build and test how drones can be used for transportation in Norwegian health services.

TRANSPORT: It is a big drone that is intended to carry blood and tissue samples (Illustration: Airlift Solutions AS)

From idea to project

– It started as an idea two years ago with a discussion between the helicopter company Airlift AS and the logistics company Transferd AS. We discussed how technology take over the logistics marked. Unmanned transportation will be more and more common in the future, and probably also transportation by air. Transportation in the health sector came up as a topic when the regional health institution Helse Førde started a project with drones in 2018. Their challenge was that tests from laboratories took too long time when sent by car, boat, buss and plain. The company contacted us in Airlift Solutions for help, says Eimhjellen.

The company Airlift Solutions AS was established as a subsidiary of the helicopter company Airlift AS to work with development of transportation by drones.

In Norway, tests form laboratories must travel far to reach the hospital. Both health companies and patients will benefit from more efficient transportation. After the initiative form Helse Førde and their project with drones, other health institutions got engaged in the work to solve this challenge in the health sector.

GROUND INFRASTRUCTURE: Landing sites, aviation regulations and other infrastructure must also be prepared in parallel with the project. (Illustration: Airlift Solutions)

Made in Norway

– We could not find drones for the purpose of transportation abroad, so we quickly decided to build the drones ourselves and do test flying in east of Norway. We think this product will be interesting also in the international market, says Eimhjellen.

But before entering the market there are several challenges to face. There is no infrastructure for transportation by drones in Norway, and no rules for unmanned aerial vehicles. The project group is now working together with the government to find solutions and rules to regulate this new form for transportation.

– This is not a technology searching a way of use, but a service for people and society. We help solving a great challenge for the health sector, says Eimhjellen.

In March, the company will start test flying in the east of Norway and further develop the service through simulation.

MAIN PICTURE - RANGE: 20 km is the first cargo drones' safe range. Then they have enough power to get back to the starting point, if needed. (Illustration: Airlift Solutions)