Wing, Apian to launch medical drone operation in London

We guess when one is backed by a tech behemoth the size of Google, success comes with the territory.

Or it does not: because Amazon’s Prime Air project – with all the backing of the online retail giant’s finances – has been successive false starts since 2013.

But it seems the situation is different with drone logistics company Wing, which has been nailing its package delivery projects and delivery partners too; first in Australia, then in the USA.

And now, the company that makes while and yellow coloured automated delivery aircraft is coming for Europe.

The UK’s The Telegraph has reported that Wing will be working with Apian, a drone-based healthcare logistics company, to partner with the National Health Service and deliver blood samples between London hospitals in an effort to speed up medical tests.

The project has not been officially confirmed by the involved parties.

But this will not be the first time Wing – which cut its teeth delivering restaurant food into people’s home in Australia – has set foot on UK shores.

In August last year, Wing and Apian announced that they would be partnering with healthcare and pharmacy partners to create a rapid medical delivery network in South Dublin.

There has not been further information about this particular project, but we figure it went according to plan; or else the London operation would not have seen the light of day.

The drones are expected to deliver high-priority samples between Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals in south London, with the project expected to launch as soon as this summer.  

Reporters from The Telegraph caught wind of this imminent partnership after getting their hands on documents proposing airspace changes lodged with the Civil Aviation Authority.

The aviation regulator had redacted the company’s name from the documents, but had left images of drones featuring Wing’s logo.

“The drones are expected to fly between the hospitals’ roofs, with flights limited to 10 a day, only on weekdays and between 9am and 5pm,” the report read.

“Hundreds of blood samples are currently delivered from Guy’s hospital to the laboratory at St Thomas’ each week to monitor patients after kidney transplants.

“They are currently delivered twice a day by a bicycle courier but it is hoped that frequent and quicker drone deliveries could mean fewer delays in processing samples.”

Pilot tests could start as early as July this year and are expected to last six months; but the parties will surely be hoping to see the tests succeed and expand beyond the initial trail period.

Wing carries out drone deliveries for companies including Walmart and DoorDash in the US. Last year the two companies said they were looking at options in the UK.

Wing said: “As announced in August, we are exploring opportunities in the UK through our partnership with Apian. Our objective is to pioneer medical drone delivery in a trial that best serves patients and providers.”

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