Flying blood

Flying for good is awesome - flying blood is even better

Building use cases is a market trend. Building really good use cases is once more a focus of very distinguished personnel. Dr. med. Dennis Göbel and Anja Ellis from AGAPLESION Frankfurter Diakonie Kliniken gGmbH in Frankfurt/Germany als researching and developing a blood transfusion transportation system based on drones.


State of the art medical development is happening in Germany - and we are about to discover the cutting edge technology.


BUVUS-Team: Dr. Göbel, you are working as the CEO for the AGAPLESION FRANKFURTER DIAKONIE KLINIKEN gGmbH in Frankfurt.

You developed a system for blood supply via UAS/ Drones. Can you state in a short how this works?


Dr Göbel:

Every year the number of ambulance call-outs is increasing in Germany, as well as the number of accidents which occur trying to reach injured people. When every second counts while driving to an emergency, ambulances need to navigate through rush hour traffic as well as windy country lanes, often resulting in slow responses. The number of deaths resulting from delayed ambulance arrivals in the last couple of years in Germany has been increasing, however no official statistics currently exist. Another increasing problem is the number of accidents involving Ambulances while on route to call outs. With increasing numbers of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians on today’s roads, unnecessary collisions involving Ambulances has resulted in increasing fatalities and subsequent costs.

For those reasons the AGAPLESION Frankfurter Diakonie Kliniken gGmbH created the so called “Blood drone”. This drone can fly in less than 5 minutes from one hospital to another hospital, less than 3,6 miles away in the same town. Wherever blood is needed the drone would be able to fly from one hospital to another. Also specific transfusion regulation would be taken care of, while transferring the blood in a isolated box which includes a so called ‘logger’. The logger monitors the temperatures the entire way from A to B.


BUVUS-Team: Blood supply is needed and rare all over the world. Can you imagine to expand your business from the local utilization and to enhance ground blood supply in the whole country with your air support?


Dr. Göbel: The whole Healthcare Industry could benefit from the Drone-Transport when it comes to emergencies. Even if we would just think about the big disasters like Airplane-crashes, Railway-accidents or big car accidents with hundreds of injured people. Just the transport of all these patients would cost a lot of time, time which is often essential. The regular emergency management exercises (for example SOGRO MANV 500 in Frankfurt/Main) are  usually taking place on times – without any rush hour problems. Imagine such scenarios on a Friday afternoon or Monday morning. The drone is there to deliver that blood within minutes directly to the accident scene.

The transport of blood in urban areas is only one of many use cases. A Dutch Graduate student of the TU Delft developed already a prototype of an ambulance drone, which delivers the defibrillator to cardiac arrested patients. Even in countryside or disaster areas we could use drones for urgent medication, searching for injured people or any medical support via telephone communication. The drone is usually faster in difficult to access areas, helping to save lives.


BUVUS-Team: How did you manage to break the obligated line of sight operations in Germany?


Dr. Göbel: Due to the german regulations we are only allowed to fly VLOS – which means to fly within eye-sight. Currently we are trying to setup a security guideline according to the drafted law in collobaration with the german air navigation service. After a succesful stresstest we are hopefully going to reach our first milestone to get from the responsbile department the allowence for a time limited model project to fly BVLOS between our two hospitals in Frankfurt – only for emergincy flights.


BUVUS-Team: What is your future vision for UAS/ Drones regarding the medical markets environment?


Dr. Göbel: Considering the number of accidents with motorcycles on weekends, which usually occur in hard to reach areas, the future could see hospitals being able to quickly deliver a neutral blood group directly to accident victims, instead of paramedics needing to load the victims onto the Ambulance and bringing the victim to the Hospital, hence saving valuable time. The duty of Drones could see an immense step forward in helping to save lives, a technological breakthrough which we are committed to help turn into a reality on a global scale.


BUVUS-Team: What do you expect from the CeBIT Unmanned Systems & Solutions?


Dr. Göbel: We are looking to team up with like-minded people in order to aid the continual development of new system ideas, helping to reach our goal. As technological research has continued to advance, we have seen the development and implementation of many interessting UAS versions with increasingly detailed and secure systems. We are looking forward to the implementation of further technological advancements in the future.  


Thank you for this interview and the answers.


Dr. Dennis Göbel

Dr. Dennis Göbel studied human medicine. He was active at several different hospitals and at different scales ranging from surgery, casualty surgery to anesthesia. He works as a consultant for anaesthesia since 1995 and achieved a hospital graduate in business management (2001). Since 2008 he is chairman of the AGAPLESION Frankfurter Diakonie Kliniken management.

In addition he is authorized attorney of the health group AGAPLESION gAG.

Anja Ellis

With over 10 years experence in the Hospital Industry I am currently working as Assistant of the CEO of the AGAPLESION Frankfurter Diakonie Kliniken gGmbH in Frankfurt/Germany.


Prior to my current role I was based in a Hospital in Viernheim where I held leadership positions overseeing the Patient Management and Marketing Departments. During my University studies in Bavaria I was able to gain insight and hands-on experience in the Healthcare and Hospital Industries, as well as the rescue services throughtout the country.


With a broad range of experience, I have been part of the Drone Team at the AGAPLESION Frankfurter Diakonie Kliniken gGmbH since the very beginning. Combined with the medical background of our CEO Dr. Dennis Göbel and a wider hospital spectrum including a fully equipped laboratory, we are privileged to set up the first Blood Drone Project in Germany. Since 2014 we have been in contact with politicians and recently also with the flight security service in Frankfurt.

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