A group of companies from the Angel Group, including Sitael, MerMec, Eikontech and Brightcyde, along with Skycomm, have been awarded a contract by the ESA to develop the innovative hospital-train equipped with ambulatory and intensive care units.

Italian national operator Trenitalia will provide the vehicles and rail facilities for the project, while the Puglia Health Department in southern Italy will provide scientific and health support.

The project will look to combine space, rail, cyber security and artificial intelligence-based technologies to enable remote medical analysis and consultations that require data exchange and high security standards.  This includes space-based technology such as satellite communications and geo-positioning, enabling advanced telemedicine and remote diagnosis while travelling. This will allow on-board healthcare personnel to remotely consult specialists and conduct joint assessments.

The train will be designed to respond to major health emergencies around Europe, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as other disasters such as earthquakes or floods. Testing is due to begin in the first half of next year.

The project was selected from around 130 ideas received in response to the call for proposals organised under the ESA’s Space Solutions programme. The programme is sponsored by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), in agreement with the Italian minister for technological innovation and digitisation, Ms Paola Pisano, and the undersecretary of state to the Italian prime minister with responsibility for space policies, Mr Riccardo Fraccaro.