Care by Air Drone Project

The First Of Its Kind In Canada

Halton Healthcare is proud to be part of an innovative pilot project with the aim of developing a process to transport medical goods and supplies using drones. Sparked by an innovative culture, we are working in partnership with DSV Air & Sea, Drone Delivery Canada, McMaster University and Air Canada Cargo.

Dubbed “Care by Air”, this project is the first of its kind in Canada and will enable the next horizon in healthcare delivery.

We are in the midst of Phase 1 of this project and plans are on track to begin Phase II in the Fall of 2023.


Innovation Takes Flight

"Being at the forefront of an innovative drone delivery system is the ideal way to contribute to the advancement of healthcare so we can be more responsive to the care needs of our patients, families and communities"

-Hilary Rodrigues, SVP, Corporate Services,
Performance & Chief Financial Officer, Halton Healthcare

Frequently Asked Questions

With the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the need for urgent healthcare transportation to be innovated further. Drones are a potentially transformative technology for solving transportation challenges associated with short-lived medial isotope products.

Drone Delivery Canada("DDC"), DSV Air & Sea Inc. Canada ("DSV"), Air Canada Cargo and Halton Healthcare Services Corporation ("Halton Healthcare") have partnered to deploy DDC's patented drone delivery solution to establish an additional transportation link for Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital.

The initiative was developed in collaboration with McMaster University("MU") through DSV as their current logistics partner. MU's expertise in the medical field will benefit from the learnings collected through the project, ultimately interested in integrating drones into the nuclear isotope supply chain. The anticipated route will be between Milton, Ontario (DSV Canada's head office in Milton) and Oakville, Ontario (Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital) relying on DSV's existing DroneSpot™ takeoff and landing infrastructure.

Past projects similar to this one have not experienced any negative interactions between drones and local wildlife. Generally, given the relatively large size of DDC's Sparrow drone, birds and other small animals typically stay clear of the drone while it is in flight. The drone flies at a low enough speed that birds can avoid it if necessary.

Additionally, security cameras are mounted at both landing sites (DroneSpot™), pointing only at the landing area. The video feed will be monitored by the Operations Control Centre to ensure the take-off/landing area is clear of both people and wildlife prior to take-off / landing.

The drone and landing site (DroneSpot™) communicate over multiple forms of communication including cellular signals and VHF frequency. 

The drone can operate day or night, and in weather conditions that include moderate rain, snow and wind. 

Approximately 200 feet above the ground.

No. The drone will fly on a pre-programmed and fixed flight path. 

  • Cargo/drone handlers: One cargo/drone handler will be located at each landing site. They are responsible for bringing cargo to the landing sites (DroneSpots™), loading and unloading cargo into the drone, and may perform pre-flight inspections and other maintenance tasks as applicable.
  • Safety Pilots: There is one Safety Pilot at each landing site. The safety pilot is present to ensure everything is operating as designed and can take over if necessary.
  • Visual Observer: This person is a trained crew member who assists the pilot in ensuing the safe conduct of a flight under visual line-of-sight. The Visual Observer will be positioned outside at a location where they can see the drone during the entire duration o fits flight between the landing site at DSV Milton and the landing site at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital.

The drone can carry up to 9 lbs (4kgs). The package cannot exceed 12 inches long x 9 inches wide x 6 inches tall.

The project will take a phased implementation. At first, the drone will carry supplies and “dummy” samples standing in for real test samples and medications. Once early flights are successful, the project can transition to transporting “real” lab samples and medications.

Generally, the drones fly well below altitudes of other types of manned aircraft. However, DDC’s system constantly monitors all commercial aircraft activity, and manned aircraft always have the right of way. DDC has also been working with OTMH and Orange to establish a process to ensure no conflict between drones and Heliport traffic. 

No. The drone does not have any cameras or other surveillance technology on it. The drone is only designed for delivery applications.

The drone will fly at approximately 54 km per hour. 

The system safely runs unmanned, automatically and is monitored from the DDC Operations Control Centre in Vaughan, Ontario, all in compliance with government regulations. 

The project will take a phased implementation. At first, the drone will carry supplies and “dummy” samples standing in for real test samples and medications. Once early flights are successful, the project can transition to transporting “real” lab samples and medications.

The project is a collaboration between Halton Healthcare, DSV Canada, McMaster and Drone Delivery Canada (DDC).

Yes, if weather and other conditions permit, drone flights will only take place between 9:00am and 4:00pm, Monday to Friday.

There are a number of technical failsafe procedures built right into the drone’s design. In the highly unlikely event of an incident involving the drone, Drone Delivery Canada, as the operator of the service, has an established Emergency Response Procedure. DDC coordinates the response with local agencies to ensure a comprehensive safety response plan, should it be required. Local agencies receive training and familiarization with the drone, emergency procedures, and a technical review, provided by Drone Delivery Canada.

Further, in order to minimize the impact of the drone flights themselves or an extremely unlikely crash, the flight path has been designed to avoid flying over people or buildings. If a drone were to crash, the local safety response team is trained to deactivate and safely retrieve the drone.

Yes. All operations are conducted in accordance with the Canadian Aviation Regulations and Transport Canada flight authorizations. 

Who can I contact if I have questions about the project?

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