• by bcarlson@marketresearch.com
  • August 3 2015


Test Sample Delivery by Drone is Possible: Study Released at AACC 2015

Test Sample Delivery by Drone is Possible: Study Released at AACC 2015

Patient samples can survive at least 40 minutes in a hobby-sized drone and be suitable for testing which could pave the way for drone sample delivery.  This per a study by the Johns Hopkins University announced at the American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC) Annual Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo in Atlanta, GA last week.  The meeting was attended by over 18,000 laboratory professionals and 784 exhibitors.  This year’s meeting was held in Atlanta, Georgia.  

the first rigorous examination of the impact of drone transport on biological samples, his team collected a total of six blood samples from each of 56 healthy adult volunteers.  The samples were then driven to a flight site an hour’s drive from the hospital on days when the temperature was in the 70s. There, half of the samples were packaged for flight, with a view to protecting them for the in-flight environment and preventing leakage.  Those samples were then loaded into a hand-launched fixed-wing drone and flown around for periods of six to 38 minutes. Owing to Federal Aviation Administration rules, the flights were conducted in an unpopulated area, stayed below 100 meters (328 feet), and were in the line of sight of the certified pilot.

The other half of the samples were driven back from the drone flight field to The  Johns Hopkins Hospital Core Laboratory, where they underwent the 33 most common laboratory tests that together account for around 80% of all such tests done. A few of the tests performed were for sodium, glucose, and red blood cell count.


The likely next step is a pilot study in a location in Africa where health care clinics are sometimes 60 or more miles away from labs.  According to Timothy Kien Amukele, M.D., Ph.D., a pathologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and director of a laboratory collaboration between Johns Hopkins and Uganda’s Makerere University, this would be the real test.

“A drone could go 100 km in 40 minutes,” says Amukele. “They’re less expensive than motorcycles, are not subject to traffic delays, and the technology already exists for the drone to be programmed to ‘home’ to certain GPS coordinates, like a carrier pigeon.”

Kalorama Information’s Market for Clinical Chemistry study describes the market opportunity for common tests that might be most affected by new delivery mechanisms.  The report can be found at:http://www.kaloramainformation.com/Clinical-Chemistry-8929833/