Helsinki: Trialing drone deliveries of pharmacy products


Helsinki (Finland)

Challenge area:

Mobility Infrastructure

Sustainable City Logistics

Implementation period:


The Challenge

The aim of the pilot was to gather learnings on the sustainability of drones as an extension to urban logistics chains and to test a new service concept with paying customers in a real urban environment. Electric drones, such as the one used in this pilot, have the potential to reduce emissions in the logistics sector. Other advantages include reduced journey times and the ability to access remote places with scarce services.

The project objectives were as follows:

  • Explore the feasibility of using commercial drones to fulfil the middle mile within on-demand / time sensitive logistics systems servicing pharmaceutical and emergency medical supply chains
  • Navigate nascent regulatory and compliance frameworks to enable beyond visual line of sight flights over urban environments
  • Identify operational constraints relating to the nature of payload (temperature) and drop mechanism (impact)
  • Test the end-to-end user experience
  • Study community acceptability and media sentiment for this emerging mode of transport

The Solution

The ByDrone Helsinki pilot, was a 3 day experiment (flights between 24th and 29th August, 2021 ) to deliver products ordered via an e-commerce pharmacy platform to their customers via drone. The drone used in the trial was a DJI M600 with a payload of 5kg. The deliveries were made between Lauttasaari and the Jätkäsaari district over the sea on a flight path of approximately 2km (up to 4 minutes flight time).

Customers were given the option to choose drone delivery (in addition to traditional means) from the pharmacy webstore. The pharmacy products ordered by the customer were packed in temperature-controlled packaging.

The pharmacy's customers were able to order non-prescription products by drone transport from Lauttiksen Apteekki’s online store. Once payment was processed, customers received a text message with the exact time of delivery and the pharmacy customer service number, so that they were given ample time to arrive at the drone port in Saukontori square in Jätkäsaari to pick up their delivery. The pharmacy staff were trained in the process of packaging, stickering, logging orders and were also provided with FAQ’s if customers had questions.