Delivery drone startup Matternet released its new Matternet Station, which lets its drones refuel and reload autonomously.
As the third component in Matternet’s drone delivery platform, the station works with the M2 Drone and Matternet Cloud platform to carry out deliveries. A drawer in the station holds packages ready for the drone to pick up, while the storage bay houses batteries to recharge the drone. Packages and batteries are swapped out automatically.
“We are taking the expert out of the loop,” co-founder and CEO Andreas Raptopoulos told Tech Crunch. “You don’t need someone to swap batteries or insert things into the vehicle.”
The station takes up two square meters and can be installed at ground-level or rooftop locations. Once the station’s technology guides the drone to landing, it then locks the drone in place to complete normal ground operations. Users can send a package by scanning it into the station and claim a package by scanning a QR code.
Matternet’s drone delivery system has been mainly deployed for healthcare-related work, such as transporting lab samples between hospital facilities. In March, Switzerland fully approved the company’s operations over densely populated areas to serve hospital networks in this way.
“With the Matternet Station, we’re introducing an extremely easy-to-use interface that enables true peer-to-peer drone delivery,” Raptopoulos said in a press release. “For healthcare systems, an integrated Matternet network means that medical items can be delivered to any hospital facility within 30 minutes. This level of speed and predictability creates substantial opportunities for improved quality of care and operational savings.”
The full automation of the delivery system can help save time in transport, an important feat when dealing with processing lab work as it ensures samples are tested and patients receive treatment more quickly.
Currently, regulations in the U.S. wouldn’t allow the Matternet platform to operate, but the company is working to expand operations in the United Kingdom and Germany.