The fight against life-threatening diseases in one of the world's poorest nations could get a boost from an unlikely avenue: Drones.
Zipline, a robotics company based in Silicon Valley, is working with the Rwandan government to deliver essential medical supplies through the use of drones to previously inaccessible areas.
Doctors can place their request for medical supplies through a text message and the supplies are dispatched from a hub, located next to a medical warehouse facility, to remote regions within minutes. Each battery-powered drone, named the Zip, is able to carry up to 1.5kg of medical supplies and can fly a distance of more than 120km. The Zip operates through a slingshot mechanism and the supplies are dropped at their destination using a parachute.
Zipline's project with the Rwandan government is set to launch in July this year to deliver blood supplies across the country. The use of drones to deliver essential medical supplies is expected to reduce the delivery time from 15 hours to 15 minutes, according to Zipline. The company is also working with partners UPS and GAVI on the possibility of speeding up the project's expansion into the delivery of medicines.