The popularity of unmanned aerial drones has continued to increase over the last few years, and this trend shows no signs of stopping. Whether they’re being used to carry TV cameras over film sets, sensors for search and rescue operations, or munitions over the battlefield, drones have a variety of uses.

Zipline drone medical emergency delivery vehicle plane tech 3

One particular type of drone has recently been adopted on a national scale by the government of the African nation of Tanzania. It’s called Zipline, and the Tanzanian government is using it to deliver essential medical supplies to remote areas.

Zipline drone medical emergency delivery vehicle plane tech 4

Ground travel to these isolated settlements may be slow and difficult due to poor road infrastructure, while manned plane flights are time-consuming and costly. When it comes to certain time-sensitive medical supplies, such as blood for transfusions, either of these options can too slow to save lives. On-demand drone flights are potentially much faster when medical emergencies arise.

The Zipline system is operated as follows:

  1. Health workers at clinics send a text message to Zipline to request specific supplies.
  2. Zipline’s medical distribution hub immediately packs the supplies in an insulated temperature-controlled container, and loads it onto a drone.
  3. The drone is launched within minutes, and cruises at 62 mph (100 km/h) to its target.
  4. In as little as fifteen minutes, the medical products are delivered by parachute to a designated area the size of a few parking spaces. Hospital staff are notified via text message.
  5. The drone turns around and returns home.

Zipline drone medical emergency delivery vehicle plane tech 1

This nation-wide system has the potential to be useful in just about any area where accessibility is limited. For example, even in developed first-world nations, there are many hiking trails where helicopters cannot land and Jeeps can’t reach. We could see a system like Zipline being useful to deliver snakebite antivenom, epinephrine for severe allergic reactions, or other critical supplies to hikers in these inaccessible areas.

What do you think of this delivery drone tech? Would you like to see it implemented in your area?

Thanks to Andy Schrader for the tip about this drone technology.

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