Rwanda to Adapt the Zipline Commercial Drone Deliveries

Reports from BBC news, show that the world’s first commercial regular drone delivery service is beginning drop-offs in Rwanda. The operation uses fixed-wing drones that automatically fly to destinations in the central African nation, releasing small packages attached to parachutes without needing to land at the delivery points before returning.

The technology promises to make deliveries much faster than had previously been possible by road, BBC news reports.

The drones will initially be used to deliver blood, plasma, and coagulants to hospitals across rural western Rwanda, helping to cut waiting times from hours to minutes.

How they Work:

  1. Powered by a nose-mounted battery and guide themselves using GPS location data, they’re launched from a catapult and fly below 500ft to avoid the airspace used by passenger planes, having an operational range of 150km (93 miles).
  2. They also send back information to both their base and to Rwandan air traffic control via a cellular connection.
  3. To begin with, 15 “zips” will fly round the clock and in up to 30km/h (19mph) winds and light rain if necessary.

The US based StartUp, Zipline, according to BBC news, will be paid by Rwanda’s health department on a per delivery basis.

According to Zipline, the cost per trip is roughly equal to that of the current delivery method, by motorbike or ambulance.

Drones have already been used for humanitarian purposes elsewhere in Africa, including in a now-ended project to deliver blood and stool samples in Madagascar, and a Red Cross initiative to monitor a refugee camp in Uganda.

Although Rwanda’s military has shown interest in Zipline’s work, the country’s Minister of ICT; Honorable Jean Philbert Nsengimana, said it has no plans for the defence department to use the technology.

Zipline who are running the project, is made up of engineers who formerly worked at Space X, Google, Lockheed Martin and other tech companies.

source: BBC News

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