In September of 2017, tech company Zipline began testing drone deliveries for blood transfusions. Now, its collaboration with ride service Uber has become a reality. Since its launch, “Uber for blood” has delivered 5,500 units of blood to rural Rwanda, saving hundreds of lives.
“The work in Rwanda has shown the world what’s possible when you make a national commitment to expand healthcare access with drones and help save lives.” [said Zipline co-founder Keller Rinaudo.]
What initially took some 4 hours of delivery time from major cities now takes only 30 minutes. Simultaneously, hospitals are able to store less blood, lessening waste from spoilt containers. Considering Zipline’s success, the company hopes to begin delivering various other supplies such as sutures and tubes.
“We know who needs medicine, when and where. And now, we can get them that medicine as quickly as possible.” [said Rinaudo.]
With the exponential rise of traffic jams and continued accessibility of drones, Zipline and Uber may have just hit the jackpot.
Now that drones have proven themselves vital in the technological universe, gadget firms are pushing its limits even further. From delivering blood transfusions to restoring forests, drones are now making more conventional deliveries. Thanks to Alphabet, Australians will be receiving spontaneous burrito bags by — you guessed it — drone.
Project Wing has teamed up with Mexican food chain Guzman y Gomez, along with pharmacy chain Chemist Warehouse to allow customers to order items through a dedicated app. The drones are then sent off to collect goods from the stores’ loading sites and dropping off to the testers at their homes, traveling at up to 120 km/h.
Part of Project Wing, the drones are giving Alphabet the breakthrough they’ve been after. The company is targeting the Australian Capital Territory, which is a 40-minute round trip to the nearest store. Gauging from the success of rural deliveries, Alphabet is challenging the precision of its drones.
Project Wing is training its drones to deliver items anywhere, using its sensors to identify new obstacles and each time that it does so, improving the onboard algorithms and its capacity to pick out a safe spot for delivery.
While accuracy is a must for any drone-related activity, I wouldn’t mind a splattered burrito. Anyway, it’s all about taste.
Months ago, we considered whether drones could be life-savers. Now that they’re restoring forests and transporting defibrillators, it seems the answer is yes. California-based company Zipline is pushing the limits even further, delivering blood transfusions via drone to remote areas across the nation. Recently, it tested the effects of long-haul flights on blood cartridges.
[The] team used a hybrid drone that combined a helicopter’s ability to launch and land vertically with a glider’s longer flight range. The researchers attached a custom-built, foam-cushioned cooler to the drone’s fuselage. Powered by the vehicle’s onboard battery, the cooler kept the samples at about 75 degrees Fahrenheit — 15 degrees cooler than outside air.
After 3 hours of testing, researchers deemed the blood healthy and relatively unaffected. Zipline has since delivered blood to areas in Rwanda and is now targeting Tanzania. They are also taking extreme safety measures to minimize drone accidents.
Drones for medical transport should be regulated: pilots should have licenses, and specific drone routes should be designated to prevent crashes.
Admittedly, drones have a lot of work to do. Still, they are promising an optimistic outlook of the future. Especially now, we could use the good news.