Matternet drone station
By Julia Zorthian
September 28, 2017

During a medical emergency, every second matters–including the ones spent driving samples to and from external labs for testing. But what if they could be flown instead? That’s the idea behind a new fleet of delivery drones, developed by California-based Matternet for deployment in Switzerland.

When lab technicians are done testing a sample, they simply deposit it at a nearby drone-docking station; then the drone takes off on a predetermined route back to a hospital, flying far above traffic.

The initiative, developed in partnership with the national postal service, is set to launch in several Swiss cities by the end of the year. But Matternet has grander ambitions. If the tech works, it may well deploy it for e-commerce delivery and more.

Write to Julia Zorthian at

This appears in the October 09, 2017 issue of TIME.

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