Smart mobility: how Helicus is saving lives
The federal government of Belgium has decided to promote smart mobility by rewarding approximately fifteen innovative companies. All of them have the goal of improving the everyday lives of Belgian citizens, but Helicus Aero Initiative is looking to save lives. Their plan is to develop drone transport between hospitals. Having the ability to transport “blood samples, blood products, samples, human tissue and medical preparations,” through the air reveals a strong vision, says Mikael Shamim, Managing Director of this startup.
But some questions still need answers – in Belgium and elsewhere in Europe. The main concern with drones and their use in cities centers around securing flights and figuring out which routes to take. The results are naturally the conditions in which property and personal insurance can be taken out.
The Safir project could resolve the problem of drones flying over cities.
This is why Helicus has partnered with the European project, SAFIR, which will allow them to test traffic in this new air space with hundreds or even thousands of drones in real-life situations. Europe has made former military bases near Brussels available to the SAFIR program in order to attract a few major players such as Amazon, for example. In addition, many projects are currently underway in various European countries. Their goal is to contribute to the development of U-Space, an initiative to safely ensure drone traffic management, and includes:
- DIODE (D-flight Internet Of Drones Environment) in Italy
- DOMUS (Demonstration of Multiple U-Space Suppliers) in Spain
- EuroDrone (A European UTM test bed for U-space) in Greece
- GOF USpace (Finnish-Estonian “Gulf of Finland” very large U-space demonstration) in Finland
- Vutura (Validation of U-space by tests in urban and rural areas) in the Low Countries.
All these projects aim to make drone navigation viable and safe.
To guarantee the security of drone flights, the SAFIR project relies heavily on Skeyes, a Belgian company who controls air space and manages the traffic of more than a million flights in Belgium’s civilian space. As part of its mission, Skeyes has recently developed the “Droneguide” mobile application which allows pilots to fly their drones in peace by verifying in advance that they are authorized to fly, and in which conditions.
The medical transport market: does it have a future?
On the insurance side, Beloise has also become a partner in the Helicus Aero Initiative project. “We are proud to be collaborating with the HAI initiative. Drone transport will become more and more important over time, and we wish, as pioneers in the insurance industry, to be one of the leaders in the field. Medical transport requires a specific risk analysis as well as a specific insurance product. We want to help Helicus achieve their development, testing and operational activities under the safest conditions possible”, confirms Pieter Vandenbussche, Technical Director of Non-Life Corporate & Marine at Baloise Insurance.
Something to consider regarding the future of transporting health products between laboratories and hospitals or clinics: the civilian drone market in Europe is estimated by the European Commission to be worth some fifteen billion euros ten years from now. However, initiatives aiming to improve the healthcare system for all are not as numerous.
Smart mobility is also about improving the existing system, and allowing more agility while taking into account the urbanization of countries.
 SAFIR (Safe and Flexible Integration of Initial U-space Services in a Real environment) is a consortium of 13 public and private organizations.