I just saw this cool You Tube Video on the O'Reilly website on drones. No it was not on any type of military use, nor was it on an engineering use. It was on a humanitarian use.
Zipline has just started operating a drone delivery service in Rwanda, an African Country, with bad roads which cause delivery to take hours or days. These drones are delivering blood, plasma, and coagulants to hospitals at a cost that makes it quite economical.
The drone is launched with the product. It flies using satellite navigation to the hospital, drops the blood or other item attached to a parachute and returns home. The flying time can take 15 to 30 minutes instead of say 4 hours. In the rainy season the time to get blood to a hospital can increase drastically because of terrain and lack of paved roads.
These drones resemble planes so they have a cargo hold. They are launched using a catapult. Once they are in they air, they provide their own power and currently fly up to 93 miles away. They fly at a height of below 500 feet so they do not interfere with normal air traffic.
You are probably wondering why this is so impressive. If you stop to think that hospitals use around 65,000 units of blood per year on postpartum bleeding, children, and others, it will save lives. About 50% of the blood is used to help women who suffer from postpartum bleeding. The hospital can call in an order of bleed and it is immediately sent.
Unfortunately, hospitals cannot order huge amounts of blood due to it having a definite shelf life. This way, hospitals can have their usual supplies and order in more as necessary. In fact, the cost to the hospital is no more than that of having it delivered by road. So this way does not increase the cost at all.
In addition, because the drones do not land, there is no need to set up any special launching equipment. Furthermore, these drones are in constant communication with Rwanda Air Traffic control apprising them of their current location.
Once this system proves its worth, I would not be surprised to see it used in other parts of Africa and the world who need a faster system than road.
Because I'm a technology geek, I think this is soooo cool. What do you think?