BRISBANE, Australia: Integrated drone logistics networks will soon be shuttling pathology samples from the Moreton Bay islands to Mater Pathology testing labs under a new partnership between Mater and Australian integrated drone logistics company Swoop Aero.
The initiative will slash up to six hours off the time it takes for samples – including vital blood tests and
COVID-19 swabs – to reach Mater for testing.
The integrated bi-directional drone logistics network is expected to collect more than 80,000 pathology
samples a year from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service patients and other
patients living on Stradbroke Island, Russell Island, Macleay Island and other Moreton Bay islands serviced
by Mater Pathology, as well as the Redlands and Hope Island on the Gold Coast.
Mater Group’s use and leveraging of the Swoop Aero drone logistics service underpins the next giant leap in how essential supplies and services are delivered. Swoop Aero commenced operations in Goondiwindi,
Queensland in 2021to transport routine prescriptions to remote patients.
The partnership between Swoop Aero and Mater Group represents Australia’s first drone-enabled pathology collection network. Swoop Aero’s integrated drone logistics bridge the gaps in society’s infrastructure — to realise the next giant leap in how essential supplies and services are delivered.
“Depending on ferry services, it can take up to six hours to get samples for testing back to Mater from
Straddie and the other islands,” said Deb Hornsby, General Manager of Mater Pathology.
“With the huge increase in testing caused by COVID, there was a pressing need to speed up our collection
services – and that’s when we approached Swoop Aero.”
“Drones are safe, reliable and so much faster than ferries and cars – which means we save valuable time in
diagnosing and treating vulnerable patients.”
Since Swoop Aero’s founding in 2017, Swoop Aero has obtained advanced operational approvals in 14
countries and has achieved 20,000 operational flights.
Following FAA type certification, Swoop Aero’s fleet of Kite TM aircraft will travel distances of more than 175 kilometres on a single battery charge across the Brisbane area, carrying up to 10 lbs of medical cargo.
“We have a big vision for Queensland,” Eric Peck, Swoop Aero’s CEO said.
“By leveraging the most advanced technology-based platform on the market, Swoop Aero will unlock the
skies to enable Mater to drive forward the next era of pathology transportation.”
Mater and Swoop Aero are seeking federal support for the pilot project through an Emerging Aviation Technology Partnership (EATP) Grant. If successful, drones will be flying across Moreton Bay in 2023 and
future initiatives could include the delivery of medicines to aged care homes by Mater Pharmacy.
Swoop Aero drones operate well below commercial aircraft altitudes and flight path approvals will be
obtained from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
The drones would land in Greater Springfield for testing in the Mater Pathology laboratories at Mater Private Hospital Springfield.
“Mater is at the forefront of healthcare innovation in Queensland,” said Maree Knight, Mater’s Director of
“The use case for pathology-sample drone transport is clear and will alleviate pressures on the health system to deliver timely, effective and quality healthcare.”
About Swoop Aero
Swoop Aero is an Australian drone logistics company founded in 2017 to transform how the world moves by making access to the skies seamless. Approved in 14 countries and underpinning over 20,000 safe operational flights; the Swoop Aero technology platform and flagship fully managed service enables
seamless drone logistics at scale. The core Swoop Aero service is turnkey operation of an integrated drone logistics service for entire populations, offering a range of services from medical delivery to emergency management, retail and e-commerce. Swoop Aero’s goal is to make their service accessible by 1 billion people in 2030.
Since its founding, Swoop Aero has worked with some of the largest organisations in global health across
three continents, including UNICEF, the Gates Foundation, UK Aid, USAID, UPS, and Gavi the Vaccine Alliance.
To learn more about Swoop Aero: https://swoop.aero/
About Mater Group
Mater operates Queensland’s largest not-for-profit network of public and private hospitals and healthcare
services. Founded in 1906 by the Sisters of Mercy, its Mission is to provide compassionate care to those who need it most. Mater’s 11 hospitals treat almost 580,000 patients a year and one in every five Queenslanders is born at a Mater hospital.
Mater Pathology conducted 3 million pathology tests in 2021 and conducted more than 2,500 COVID-19
tests a day during Queensland’s 2022 COVID peak.