DHL, the German government and the Darmstadt-based drone manufacturer Wingcopter have completed successfully a six-month trial delivering medicines in 40 minutes to an island in Lake Victoria that normally takes six hours by road.
Following an invitation by John Mongella, the Regional Commissioner of Mwanza, a port city on Lake Victoria, the 4kg-capacity Wingcopter made over 160 proving flights from Mwanza to the district hospital in Nansio on the island of Ukerewe, a distance of 60 kilometers.
The Medical Stores Department (MSD) is a government organization responsible for distributing medicines in the Lake Victoria region of Tanzania. The warehouse supplies hospitals in four districts and serves more than 10 million people.
As a result of the test, the 400,000 people in the Ukerewe District will now have access to medical care and support in hours rather than days.
In April this year the UPS Foundation announced it was expanding its work with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and Zipline, a California-based robotics company, to deliver life-saving blood and medicines to remote communities in Rwanda via drone.
Since October 2016 the partnership has made more than 4,000 drone deliveries of over 7,000 units of blood to remote hospitals across the country. As a result, UPS says “the world’s first national medical drone delivery network” is being developed throughout Rwanda.
This week, the US Senate passed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 that includes the legislative framework to develop commercial drone technology in the US.
“Until today, drone policy concerns halted new rulemakings that would expand the ability of the commercial drone industry to fly over people, at night, and beyond visual line of sight, “ declared Lisa Ellman of the Commercial Drone Alliance whose members include Apple, CNN and Ford.
The Alliance is an industry-led, non-profit association representing commercial drone end users in vertical markets such as oil and gas, precision agriculture, construction, security, communications technology, infrastructure, newsgathering and filmmaking.
One of the key features of the DHL-led test in Tanzania was to determine the successful delivery of consignments beyond line-of-sight – and the return of the drone.