A national drone delivery system known as Zipline is delivering life-saving medicine to places that are difficult to reach. One of these places is Rwanda. They have been receiving blood, plasma and platelets delivered to over 20 hospitals. Since launching Zipline, Rwanda has received 7,000 units of blood from their drone missions. A third of these have been received in immediate life-saving situations, according to the company. Currently, Zipline delivers more than 20 percent of Rwanda’s blood supply.
Zipline’s just-in-time drone delivery is transforming Rwanda’s medical supply chain by ensuring hospitals have access to blood products. This in turn has helped reduce waste and spoilage by over 95 percent. Zipline is working on opening up a second distribution center in Rwanda to help the entire country instead of specific locations.
Although, Zipline has been focused on Rwanda, they hope to extend their services to the United States.
“Billions of people on earth lack access to critical medicine,” said Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo, in a statement. “In East Africa, Zipline’s drones bring people the medicine they need, when they need it in a way that reduces waste, cost and inventory while increasing access and saving lives. We’ve been hard at work to improve our technology and are ready to help save lives in America and around the world.”
Zipline is currently working with state governments to launch a medical drone delivery in part with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who announced the UAS Integration Pilot Program (UASIPP).
The UASIPP was created for state, local and tribal governments to join forces with the private sector and quicken the process of safe commercial drone innovation in the country.
One of the program’s goals is to have beyond visual line-of-sight flights over heavily occupied areas in the FAA’s National Airspace System. The FAA will approve UASIPP projects by May 2018. United States projects coordinating with Zipline will take in effect and begin operation by the end of 2018.
Additionally, Zipline announced it plans to launch an extensive drone delivery service in Tanzania to provide emergency access with life-saving medication. This project will service Tanzania with blood transfusion supplies, vaccines, HIV medications, antimalarials, antibiotics, lab chemicals and surgical supplies. The scale of this project has the potential to help up to 2,000 life-saving deliveries a day, essentially serving 10 million people worldwide.
“The new aircraft and distribution center system we’re unveiling…will help Zipline scale to meet the needs of countries around the world—including the United States,” said Rinaudo.