Necessity is the mother of invention, and now it looks like it is the mother of innovation too. Drones are being deployed to deliver blood and health supplies to rural health centres in Rwanda.
Rwanda is a small landlocked country in east-central Africa, the topography of rural Rwanda makes it difficult to get emergency services and supplies to healthcare centres in time. This led to the local government and US startup launching a drone delivery service that will start dropping blood bags and vaccines to 20 remote hospitals in the coming months.
The terrible roads and mountainous terrain of Rwanda make it difficult for medical supplies to reach the health centres by other vehicles. Since drones are not affected by the topography they were an excellent choice to implement to reach these essential services to the rural health centres.
Zipline’s drone which it calls the ‘zip’ is a small robot airplane designed for a high level of safety, using many of the same approaches as commercial airliners. It can carry vaccines, medicine, or blood. The drone will be launched into the air from medical warehouses to make hundreds of deliveries per day.
Once a health worker places an order by text message, a zip is prepared and launched into the sky,
A fleet of Zips is able to provide for a population of millions. No roads, no problem,” The company said on its website. Racing along at 100 km/h, the Zip arrives faster than any other mode of transport, and does not require a pilot. It then drops of the ordered supplies, landing gently and accurately at the health facility in an open area the size of a few parking spaces.
One delivery, one life saved. It’s that simple.
The company will now serve 20 hospitals and health centres this summer, and its aim is to put every one of Rwanda’s 11 million-plus residents within a 15 to 35 minute delivery time of any urgent medical product.
While fixed wing glider drones lack the speed of quadcopter designs, they are used very efficiently for various applications including surveillance, agriculture and environmental research. These drones also offer longer durations of flight which makes them suitable for applications such as these.While the company did not reveal the distance the Zip drone can cover at a time, it did say that it’s “unprecedented range” makes national wide coverage possible from a single base.
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