DRONES to Drop Blood not Bombs!!

Zipline, a California startup company has now come up with a fabulous plan of using Drones to drop blood. Drones are usually categorized into two: military weapons and annoying toys. Round the world we find many plans of making Drones useful. Amazon, a leading ecommerce brand wants to make use of drones to deliver its products to customers and the social networking giant Facebook spot at beaming the internet to remote areas.

Rwanda is an African country with 11 million population, nicknamed as “Land of Thousand Hills.” Machines deliver medical therapeutic supplies in this country. So, later this year Zipline, working with UPS and Gavi (vaccine distributer), plans to set up drones in Rwanda. The objective of the startup company is to make 150 deliveries each day to 21 medical centers throughout the western half of the country with the help of 15 self-governed aircrafts.  Accepting the Drone technology, the Rwandan government recently approved progressive guidelines for its use and now working with the company to measure the success of the project.

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The Zipline’s drones are being designed and tested in the northern California, where they can the test the drops without creating any sort of disturbance beyond cattle. The prototypes seems to be with the payload mechanism.The mechanism here uses primitive materials like rubber bands for the ejection of drones and parachutes are made out of wax papers. These materials are made in-house for 50 cents which are designed to be used once, then chucked.

The cost effective drones reduce the complexity when working in the hilly remote areas. As the Wired report, Zipline prefer fixed-wing drones because more common quadcopters “only operate in perfect weather, and tend to fall out of the sky unpredictably,” says founder and CEO Keller Rinaudo.

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“People do not wait for perfect weather to get sick or to have medical emergencies, so if we’re going to build something that’s useful, it has to be able to operate all the time,” he added.

Rwanda’s roads often get washed away in raining season restricting the movement of trucks and motor bikes which are used for dispatching essential deliveries. The CEO believes that the company’s drones delivery can match the cost of the motor bikes deliveries in far less time. And if eventually a second hub is added the deliveries can be expanded to the entire population of Rwanda.

When & How do they use these Drones?

When a doctor or nurse requests medical supplies via text message, a drone operator will immediately get the supplies from a central warehouse. The supplies are then stuffed into a padded cardboard box, and place the payload in the belly of a drone. Now, the drone is all set to fly when a fresh battery is finally clipped to the nose before uploading the flight plan from an iPad.

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The drone’s travels about 60 mph and can be operated within a radius of 45 miles. The aerial catapult sends it aloft and the twin electric motors keep its flies autonomously the GPS coordinates programmed into the flight plan. Upon reaching the destination the drone moves down to the 45 feet and deploy its payload. The advanced software of the drones features things like wind speed, which allows the drone to reach the destination about the size of 4 parking spaces.

The main focus of the company is to deliver blood for treating severe trauma and hemorrhaging after childbirth, which is a frequent cause of maternal deaths in the Africa. A country where stored blood and medicine go into wastes due to the spotty electricity, central storage of therapeutic supplies, blood and deploying them during the times of emergency makes a good sense.

Ed Martinez, president of the UPS Foundation ad the company’s philanthropic arm said, “UPS helps here, providing $800,000 and its logistics expertise to get the things started.” He added that his foundation is getting benefited too with this, as they are learning more about the drone technology.

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“We need an elegant solution to be able to deliver stuff quickly, to where it is needed,” says Seth Berkely, a physician and CEO of Gavi.

Zipline’s drone-port fits in a shipping container, which helps in deploying the supplies in case of natural disaster etc. Google’s project Wing and Deliver disaster relief is other idea based on this technology. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is also exploring using such drones to deploy vaccines.

The prototypes are being tested in Rwanda as it has very fewer regulations and less cluttered airspace when compared to US. Soon the drone technology used for humane projects will be limelight and it is going to be followed by others including US and Europe.


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