Crowded streets are the bane of any commute. They can result in late arrivals at work, missed flights, and endless amounts of frustration. However, on occasion, there can be much more severe consequences when vehicles carrying potentially lifesaving or vital healthcare supplies become stuck in traffic. As a result, a new form of transport involving drones flying through the air above the streets is being tested to deal with this scenario.
Preliminary tests of medical drones in London showed promising signs with a particular experiment carried out between two hospitals, St Thomas’ Hospital and Guy’s Hospital. Although the hospitals are only 3.2 km apart, they are connected by incredibly busy streets. With the medical drone’s ability to lift a two-kilo payload, it was able to cover the distance in two to four minutes. On the other hand, a ground vehicle would take nearly 16 minutes to cover that distance despite its advantage of carrying more load. The extra minutes saved could have been the difference between life or death in the case of an emergency.
Besides the busy streets, isolated or rural communities with poor road connection also stand to gain from this concept. The Zipline service in Rwanda, Central Africa takes WhatsApp or text message orders from doctors before launching a drone to deliver medical supplies. So far, their 15 drones have flown a total of nearly 200,00 miles, delivering 7,000 units of blood in 7,500 flights. Future cargos planned for medical drones include HIV medication, snake antivenom, and rabies drugs.