In Rwanda, the transport of critical care medicine and blood can be difficult if the patient is in a remote location.
Heavy downpours can wash roads and local hospitals are often too small to store all your doctors may need.
Now, the Rwandan government is circumventing the problem with a delivery schedule drone. In the western half of the country, 21 clinics transfusion may request lots of blood through text.
The order will be picked up by Tirolesa a robotics company based in California, at its base “nest” in Muhanga. A small drone then unfolds and, upon arrival, swoop down to fall under the package off in a designated “mailbox” area.
The new drones “zip” can carry up to 1.5 kg of blood – enough to save the life of a person – more than 150 km.
Zipline is starting with 15 unmanned aircraft that will make 50-150 emergency flights each day. Each delivery should take 30 minutes, without passing through any problem or poor infrastructure below.
In the future, the government hopes to expand the scheme and offer different types of vaccines and medicine to save lives.
The first step, in early 2017, will provide deliveries of similar blood in the eastern half of the country as well.
During the next year, Tirolesa – together with its partners, UPS and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance – will look to see if deliveries can be replicated in other countries in Africa and America.
Over time, the group wants to serve Indian reservations in Maryland, Nevada and Washington state.
“The hours saved the delivery of blood products or a vaccine for someone who has been exposed to rabies with this technology could make the difference between life and death,” Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi said.
“All children deserve basic vaccines to save lives. This technology could be an important step to ensure that they get.”