In less developed countries, it is very hard to get medical supplies out to villages in extreme rural places. It may take hours for a vehicle to traverse rocky and muddy dirt roads as it slowly moves across terrain without proper road. However, a solution to this problem has popped up. A company called Zipline has been sending medicine, blood, vaccines, and other medical supplies using little drones called “Zips”.
Zips are tiny drones that fly over 60 mph with dual electric motors, and has a wingspan of 8 feet. They get launched via a slingshot and flies autonomously to the desired location, drops its payload, turns around, and returns to base. Zips have a very impressive range, able to fly 40 miles from home base.
Recently, Zipline has partnered with the government of Rwanda, and has been flying out supplies to twenty hospitals and health centers. Using such a method of transportation can cut a delivery from several hours to just 15 minutes. The process is simple. A health worker places an order by text. The requested materials are placed in the cargo hold of the zip as the zip gets preflight checks. Within minutes of the request, the zip is launched into the sky. Once it gets there, it drops its cargo, the cargo parachutes softly down to the ground, and flies back.
This idea is revolutionary, already saving thousands of lives. When medical supplies are needed, they are needed immediately. Waiting 4 hours is just far too long. Zips allow supplies to be sent and received within minutes, and saves lives each delivery. Zipline is looking to expand to rural America as well, since physicians are sparse in such areas. I can’t wait to see such a great idea take off (take off. Get it?), and I believe such an invention will change the way medicine is sent to poor areas.