SANBS Bloodwing project – Behind the Scenes

SANBS Bloodwing project – Behind the Scenes

​Emergencies where every second counts, to ensure that help arrives on site, are not bound to easily accessible places. This is exactly where drones can offer a decisive advantage to deliver a critical time advantage.

The South Africa National Blood Service (SANBS) was looking for a carrier platform to transport blood from SANBS sites to hospitals for exactly this scenario. The Tron F9 from Quantum-Systems was the preferred choice. With a 2.0 kg payload and a range of 100 km+, it offers enough reserves to transport up to 4 units of blood in time with active temperature cooling and monitoring.

The following interview with Amit Singh from SANBS provides insight into Project #BloodWing. The initial article about this project can be found here.

What is the mission of SANBS?

To reliably provide trusted blood products and services to all patients at a world class level of cost and quality while innovating new treatment to enhance human healthcare.

What are you doing at SANBS?

I am the Project Lead and Head of Drone Operations (ICT Service Delivery Manager aswell).

how can UAVs help SANBS to succeed?

When a patient requires blood in an emergency, time is of utmost importance and I believe UAVs will address this. Prompt delivery of blood and blood products to our patients, utilizing UAVs, especially in rural areas, where traditional transport systems cannot get to or takes too long to reach its final destination.

Bloodwing Custom Payload

Enough space and payload in the CG (center of gravity) of the Tron for a maximum of 4 blood transfusions – safely stored and cooled for a quick delivery

Why did you go for Quantum-Systems?

We (The Drone Task Team) investigated a number of #UAV options in the market (locally and internationally), against the following criteria:

1.  Speed
2.  2 Way logistics
3.  Range – min 100KM flight distance
4.  Safety
5.  Security of UAV (Datalinks)
6.  Payload (min 2 KGs which is equivalent to 4 units of blood)
7.  Payload to be in CG
8.  Active Monitoring and Temperature Control of cargo (blood and blood products)
9.  G Forces on cargo (blood and blood products)
10. Electric VTOL (SANBS is supportive of going ‘Green” (environmentally friendly)
11. Ease of use for Mission Planning

Based on these criteria, the TRON designed by Quantum Systems was the UAV of choice.

The Tron convinced with its capabilities as a versatile UAV system.

How did the partnership progress?

The partnership has been very positive. The advice, guidance and collaboration has paved the way to where we are and what the future may look like.

Florian and his team believes in the goodness of this project (#Drones4Good) and that is evident by the time and effort the team has given and not to mention the number of work packages provided at no cost to SANBS (being an NPO, this goes a long way). Our interaction (SANBS and QS teams) over the past year has been amazing, you would think we knew each other for years. I have not been disappointed to date, we have had our disagreements but at the end of the day, we did what was in SANBS’s best interest.  I believe it is healthy to have disagreements and to challenge each other, this builds mature partnerships. To have UAV partner that agrees to everything is probably a recipe for disaster and would have huge cost implications.

(Vincent, Amit and Jakob after a project meeting. Vincent and Jakob developed the cooling system and the monitoring of the payload


How did the Tron benefit your work?

The final product is the Tron, it does not get any better. The first time I saw this UAV,I was enthusiastic about the possibilities and already existing features. There have been some additions, with the active cooling and monitoring of the cargo bay to accommodate the blood packages.

100km operating radius at the push of a button

Especially in difficult to access, rural areas, UAVs can provide the crucial time advantage.

What do you wish for the future regarding UAVs in transportational use cases?

I would like to see more clearer guidance from the relevant regulators (Transport and Logistics industry) about drone use. I believe this will make things easier for the relevant CAA’s. Maybe the introduction of a drone regulator this to assist on only for transportation use cases, but for the use of Drones. I think we need to work on this one in the future.

What would you recommend to professionals who think about adding a UAV to their quiver of instruments?

Know the laws and regulations about the use case prior to choosing a UAV. Choose the right partner and UAV that is suited for your needs, don’t rush into making this decision. So basically apart from the CAA rules and regulations, there would be certain things from a medical and transportation perspective that one would need abide to for the transportation of Blood.

Everyone wants to be the first but it would be beneficial for more collaborative approaches but I suppose it’s easy for me to want this as I work for an NPO. The more we work together, the better it will be for the industry and save on costs. I would like to see more being done for #Drones4Good.

What will SANBS look like in 10 years? What is your vision and what role will drones play in it?

It a tough one, UAV’s is a part of what SANBS does but UAV’s will become part of our current logistics, I don’t see our fleet of vehicles being replaced, not in the next 10 years.

My vision for the Blood Service will be, that , wherever and whenever there is a request for blood, our UAV’s will ensure that the blood is delivered timeously for the people of South Africa. To also see what we have done being rolled out in Africa and internationally. What we are doing can be used in many industries and not limited to delivery of blood or blood products only.

It would be my dream to start an organization or an entity that is focused on Drones4Good (UN … hint .. hint). To see a group of companies and individuals from all over the world, working together on a #Drones4Good campaign, would be amazing. A true Drones4Good campaign would be in the best interest of serving humanity, and who would not want to be part of that.

Review Quantum-Systems @ Geoweek in Denver

Review Quantum-Systems @ Geoweek in Denver

Quantum-Systems first time at Geoweek, LIDAR Mapping Forum and ASPRS Meeting 25-31 January 2019 in Denver, with great success.

Professional LiDAR and photogrammetry solutions, in the professional environment are the focus in Denver. The perfect environment for the VTOL-UAV´s from Quantum-Systems.

For the first time Quantum-Systems presented the application possibilities of Tron and Trinity as carrier systems for the use of different sensors for land surveying and land reconnaissance in front of more than 5,000 lidar and photogrammetry experts at the fair in Denver.

There was great interest in the possibility of using the #TronUAV as the only eVTOL carrier system available on the market for a #LIDAR. “A nice and well-made solution…German craftmanship as it best…beautiful system…astonishing specs” were just a few of the quotes that reflect the positive interest in the Tron.

Johannes Krick from the German subsidiary of Quantum-Systems GmbH and the American distributor Dayle Hylton from Seattle agreed after the three days of the fair: “We will be there again next year. Trinity and Tron as systems that can fly more than 60 minutes with one battery charge have a great future in the North American market.

Great interest in Quantum Systems UAVs

The long flight time, the ability to take off and land in very narrow terrain due to the electric VTOL design and the robust construction as well as the complete system with the QBase mission planning software have few competitors in North America to fear.

There is already a great demand for the Trinity UAV, which is currently distributed by four resellers in the USA. With a new regulation of the BVLOS regulations by the FAA, the interest in the eVTOL UAV´s from Quantum-Systems will increase even further. See you in a year, then in Washington.”

Tron UAV basic training with the Duisburg fire brigade

Tron UAV basic training with the Duisburg fire brigade

Four firefighters from the Duisburg main fire station were extensively introduced to mission planning and flight execution with the eVTOL UAV Tron from Quantum-Systems.

Not only the basics for safe handling of the unmanned flight system were taught. Each of the future Tron pilots was tasked to fly a jointly designed mission independently on the 2nd day of the training. In addition to the automatic mode, in which the Tron independently flew mission targets, the pilots of the Duisburg fire brigade were also introduced to manual flying.

Drones as a reliable partner in the field

After the two training days in Gilching, Dipl. Ing. Jörg Helmrich, Head of Department for Control Centre, Information and Communication Technology of the Duisburg Fire Brigade, emphasised: “With this drone, we will in the future also have extended deployment possibilities in Duisburg, in order to detect critical and potentially dangerous situations from the air at an early stage and to be able to coordinate our measures on this basis”.

All pilots were enthusiastic about the Tron’s good-natured flight characteristics and the easy to learn operation of the mission planning software Qbase.

Quantum-Systems Tron – The flying eye over the Oktoberfest

Quantum-Systems Tron – The flying eye over the Oktoberfest

Every year the Theresienwiese in Munich is transformed into the largest public festival in the world for two weeks. The Oktoberfest attracts between 5 and 6 million visitors every year. So many people in a public place also place special tasks on the security authorities and emergency forces.

The use of drones at such major events or in emergency situations can provide considerable support to the fire brigade, police or aid organisations.

There are many possible applications for the unmanned flight systems, which can be equipped with a large number of sensors. On the one hand, this can be a quick and comprehensive situation assessment from the air, through which a corresponding reaction in real time is possible. On the other hand, special sensors such as a thermal imaging camera or a laser scanner (LiDAR) can provide the command and control unit with information that would not be visible to the naked eye.

First flight at the Theresienwiese in Munich

On 9th of August 2018, an event with a practical demonstration took place on the Theresienwiese in Munich as part of the DLR (German Aerospace Center) research project Live-Lage.

The aim of the project is to use UAVs to clarify complex or geographically extensive operational sites and to provide the emergency services with a detailed picture of the situation in real time. As a result they can guide the emergency services in a targeted manner.

In cooperation with the Duisburg fire brigade, the DLR is developing a novel concept for the rapid reconnaissance of major damage and disaster situations in urban areas. Among other things, DLR is developing an optical reconnaissance system for this purpose, which is mounted on the UAV Tron from Quantum-Systems.

About Quantum-Systems

Quantum-Systems is a company based at the special airport Oberpfaffenhofen / Gilching / Germany which specializes in the development and production of electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft drones. Like the smaller Trinity model, the Tron used for this purpose is an innovative, purely electrically powered unmanned aircraft.

The main feature of the two transition aircrafts are swivelling propellers which, thanks to the autopilot developed in-house, can be tilted fully automatically in such a way that the aircraft drones can take off and land in the tightest of spaces, such as helicopters. After the transition phase, they have the aerodynamic efficiency of an aircraft in horizontal flight.

These features, combined with a variable payload of up to two kilograms, make the Tron the ideal platform for civil security tasks. It allows the use of a variety of sensors on a single aircraft. A flight time of up to 90 minutes allows monitoring of an extended mission or enables flying over a large area without a stopover.

Over the skies in Munich

The Tron flew above the Theresienwiese at a height of 170 m for 10 minutes to record data for evaluation. During the Oktoberfest, this data provides the rescue and security forces with a high-precision 3D map as a basis for planning operations. A special camera by the DLR was integrated into the variable payload compartment of the Tron, which allows images to be captured with a high level of detail. With the MACS camera system (Modular Aerial Camera System), it is possible to produce a highly accurate position map for the operations management on site almost in real time.

Due to limited space available on site and the large area to be mapped, only a small aeroplane can be used as a carrier for the camera. The ability to take off and land vertically makes the operation a lot easier. After all, the goal was to map the 420,000 m² Theresienwiese within a few minutes with a resolution of less than 3 cm. 

With the specially manufactured camera of DLR, an exact position map of the Theresienwiese could be produced within a very short time. Due to the high sensitivity of the camera, details relevant for use are visible even in dark and heavily shaded areas of the terrain.

Speed of data aquisition, accuracy and processing time are key to success

The speed of data acquisition and processing is also of great importance. In the future, it is conceivable that the camera will also be able to provide information during operation.

“For us, such a system is a great support. We see the potential of the MACS camera in the “Wiesn” (coll. term for the Oktoberfest)  preparation and in perspective also during such large events,” says a representative of the Munich fire brigade.

Since the system is capable of informing rescue and emergency forces in real time on the basis of the map of the location where help is needed – for example, if the number of people at certain locations becomes too high – the combination of Tron + MACS is also intended to provide support during ongoing major events.


Further applications – a glimpse into the future

The Munich Fire Brigade sees a possible use outside the support of major events in the search for persons. Two helicopters are often used at the same time to search for missing persons, for example in waters such as the Isar. One for the search and one for the rescue. According to the fire brigade, searching for the missing person with the MACS camera could save time and money during such rescue operations.

The recording of the area in the run-up to the Oktoberfest can therefore only be the beginning of the use of the Quantum-Systems Tron in combination with special sensors in the civil security sector. Tests such as this provide important insights into how the system can be used in the future to support emergency forces, prevent disasters at best and even save lives.

First approved Beyond-Visual-Line-of Sight (BVLOS) UAV flight in Germany

First approved Beyond-Visual-Line-of Sight (BVLOS) UAV flight in Germany

One and a half years of preparatory work have paid off:

On 14th of February 2018 Quantum-Systems GmbH in cooperation with bavAIRia e.V. carried out the first test flight beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) approved by the Luftamt Süd and without a restricted flight area on the property of the German Air Force Technical Center for Aircraft (WTD 61) in Manching!

We flew with the VTOL drone Tron, with a wingspan of 3.5m and a take-off weight of 13kg. The simple operation and execution by only one person surprised in comparison to much more complicated military drone systems that otherwise fly here.

The 20m/s fast drone (72km/h) flew through the 2km long test track fully automatically several times, proving its reliable function including all data connections and emergency functions.

According to the current status no civilian drone is allowed to fly except the visibility range of 500m. However, making this possible is regarded as the holy grail that will only open up many drone applications for the future. For example, inspection of pipeline routes, pipelines, railway routes or other traffic.

In order to approve the present BVLOS flight, a great deal of preparatory work had to be done by a wide variety of agencies. All safety-critical scenarios had to be analyzed in detail and automatic or manual measures derived from them. What happens in the event of a radio failure when the airspace is suddenly needed by a rescue helicopter, etc.?

The process chains and communication structures, e.g. between tower and pilot, were described in an operating agreement, so that in an emergency the airspace can be quickly cleared or even an emergency crash can be initiated.

As a practical side effect, the ground was scanned during the flight, as it is often done in the applications of Quantum Systems for large-scale agriculture or surveying. Here is an insight into the evaluation of the recorded image data:

Many thanks to all the supporters who have driven this project forward with great enthusiasm:

  • bavAIRia e.V. Erwin V. Lauschner and the BVLOS working group
  • Bundeswehr Technical Office for Aircraft and Aircraft (WTD 61),
  • Mr. Strauss, examiner at UAV DACH e.V. and former head of department within WTD 61


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