As the demand for logistics solutions grows worldwide, Switzerland-based RigiTech, a drone delivery company, wants to cut delivery times and make access to medicine and medical devices nearly instant by flying over crowded cities, rivers, lakes, and mountains. To that end, RigiTech and France's largest laboratory group Biogroup have recently obtained flight authorizations to begin regular BVLOS flights between Biogroup's laboratories in Bourgoin-Jallieu and Tignieu-Jameyzieu.
As strict as BVLOS regulations are, continuous communication with the Direction Générale de L'Aviation Civile (DGAC) and Direction des Services de la Navigation Aérienne (DSNA) helped RigiTech and Biogroup to land the BVLOS authorization. Also, with the help of the local teams and control towers at Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport, the Heliport of the Centre Hospitalier Pierre Oudot (Bourgoin-Jallieu), Frontonas airbase, Clearance, and local Bourgoin-Jallieu and Tignieu-Jameyzieu municipalities, this recent partnership brings to life the first approved recurrent drone delivery route to take place within controlled airspace in France, and one of the first in Europe.
"Drone regulations in Europe are constantly evolving to increase flexibility for drone operations. But because of its novelty and differences from traditional aviation, the industry has yet much to learn. I'm very proud to have participated in this process. These authorizations are helping the whole industry to push the limits of what can be done without compromising on safety," said Alejandro Del Estal, Head of Operations at RigiTech.
With 930 sites throughout France, Biogroup takes samples and analyzes more than 100,000 patients daily. While most sites can run routine analysis, the most urgent tests are centralized in about 30 sites. In 2021, the company sought help from RigiTech to perform drone deliveries and "allow us to divide transport times by three or four on average," stated Bernard Berlioz, CEO at Biogroup's Oriade-Noviable laboratory. "In addition, by focusing on drones, we should achieve identical costs to road transport, which involves vehicles and personnel."
The new BVLOS authorization helps Biogroup roll out its drone group by the end of 2022 or early 2023. The first BVLOS route will connect laboratories located 17.6 km apart, making it easier to transport biological samples from local clinics around the area directly to the main laboratory for processing and analysis, enabling a faster diagnosis and quicker access to the proper treatment. Whereas the route takes 30 minutes by car, RigiTech's Eiger drone, designed to ensure cold-chain transportation of blood and biological samples and other medical products, reduces the delivery time by 50% (15 minutes).
For RigiTech, the BVLOS authorizations bring the company closer to its goal to develop Europe's largest inter-laboratory drone delivery network, encompassing multiple routes connecting some of Biogroup's clinics and laboratories in France, Spain, and throughout Europe. Recently, the company joined the Drone Logistics Ecosystem, a free-of-charge virtual ecosystem with a primary focus on stimulating innovation and commercialization in the drone logistics industry.
"A central facet of our work for the future is airspace coexistence, working towards access to airspace, deconfliction, inter-platform communication, and remote supervision. Collaborating with DLE partners in the drone delivery industry helps us approach complex obstacles like improving mobile connectivity for UASs, removing the need for ground-based operators and allowing multi-drone supervision in regulations," Adam Klaptocz, CEO and Co-Founder at RigiTech.