Researchers are trialling a revolutionary fixed wing drone that could be used to deliver emergency medical supplies in remote areas.

The winged drone combines the agility of a helicopter-style drone with the efficiency of an aircraft.

It takes off like a drone, but in the air, it relies on wings instead, making it much quieter than a normal drone, and is able to fly “out of sight” without having to recharge.

The costs are also much lower than it would be for an aeroplane or a helicopter.

Founded in 2016 in the Netherlands, the Avy team under founder Patrique Zaman believes the drone could revolutionise the future of aviation and therefore do something “good” for the world.

‘We founded Avy with the aim of developing an electric wing drone that flies fully autonomously and without emissions, that can take off and land vertically (Vertical Take-off and Landing, or VTOL for short) and whose operations are focused on life-saving missions and applications,” Zaman said.

Over the past few years, the start-up company has tested its technology, rehearsed operations and sent the wing drone on test flights in all weather conditions and situations — primarily in Africa.

Now, the focus is on its operational launch and commercial development.

As early as 2020, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency will implement new EU-wide regulations for unmanned aerial vehicles.

Drone companies will then be able to fly their aircraft with heavy cargo and over long distances without visual contact, i.e. BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight).

Avy initially intends to focus on two areas of application, primarily in Africa and Europe: medical supplies and environmental protection.

Together with partners such as UNICEF, the drone will in future supply medication, vaccines and blood at regular intervals as well as in acute emergencies to places that are difficult to access.

In emergencies, AEDs (Automated External Defibrillator) and sterile surgical instruments will also be moved from a central storage location to local clinics.

In addition, the drone, which currently has a maximum take-off weight of 10kg, will also collect blood and tissue samples from any location and take them to a central laboratory for examination.

In Europe Avy will be the first drone company to undertake BVLOS flights by air ambulance.

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.