One of the greatest health challenges, especially in developing countries, is to get medical supplies to emergency situations. This is often due to challenging terrain and big gaps in local infrastructure and causes thousands of mothers to die from pregnancy-related complications every year.
Zipline is the world’s first commercial medical drone delivery system, delivering blood and vaccines from central, safe storage facilities in Rwanda. Each Zipline drone has a range of 150 kilometers and can fly 500 deliveries in 24 hours in all weather conditions. The cost per trip is roughly equal to that of the current delivery method, by motorbike or ambulance, and relies on a unique, non-landing boomerang approach that brilliantly bypasses the inherent drone issue of having to land, which depletes battery power and reduces drones’ range.
In 2017, blood deliveries to 21 transfusing facilities in the western part of Rwanda have begun; this part of the country being notorious for its poor roads and healthcare infrastructure. Deliveries will initially reach about 7 million Rwandan people, covering an area of 7,000 square miles. Zipline recently also announced that it will begin delivering blood and medicine to remote and rural areas in Maryland, Nevada, and Washington (US) under a program set to launch later in 2017. This could serve as a pilot project for a global roll out and a complete redefinition of the delivery of emergency supplies.