June 14, 2017
In a country surrounded by a thousand hills Rwanda has health care issues like maternal deaths, malaria, rabies, tuberculosis and many more. Silicon Valley’s Zipline now delivers blood to villages through its drones to this East Africa’s nation. What would take about 3 to 4 hours to reach the remote village, Zipline’s drone called ‘Zip’ travels up to a little over 62 miles/hour and can deliver it in just 15 minutes.
The blood-packets are wrapped inside show-box sized cardboard containers and are sent flying to reach the patients. After some intense research and field work, it was found that many deaths, especially maternal deaths due to excessive bleeding, could be avoided if only the blood-packets had reached on time. Zipline came to the rescue with its drones.
It is the first in the world to deliver emergency medical products on a regular basis. It uses fixed-wing drones which have greater range and are more resilient in bad weather than other common multicopter models. The doctors in medical centers send out a text message when a patient requires blood. Once they receive the message, the blood is packed and sent out. It is placed on a system of bungee pulleys, which thrusts the drone into the air. There are pre-programmed routes which use real time navigational satellites. A Zipline personnel sits on top of a distribution center and monitors the flight path with an iPad. Once they reach the destination, the blood packets are dropped off at a predetermined landing site, within a 5 meter diameter. A waxed paper parachute helps in the landing.
With the new success story of Zipline, more such humanitarian and health care issues can be addressed through technology.