These autonomous drones are designed to bring life-saving supplies to remote hospitals

Most people associate drones with recreational flying, military use, and even delivering packages, but recently one company set its sights on utilizing autonomous drone flight technology to deliver medical help to hard-to-reach hospitals. Zipline was founded to create a system that aids people by quickly responding to medical needs. The intent is to replace medical supply vehicles that have to rely on traversing harsh roads. The Zipline hospital distribution centers are equipped with medical supplies, blood pouches, vaccines, and more. Each contains a fleet of fully electric autonomous drones that can carry 4 pounds of supplies or 3 units of blood.

Once a hospital sends a request to a Zipline distribution center, the staff begins the process to ensure the supplies get in the air and on their way quickly. The electric drones are equipped with a custom-built navigation system and once one is fully loaded and scanned for liftoff, it’s then catapulted into the air, reaching speeds of up to 62 mph on its way to its destination. The drone is still autonomous, but it continues to be monitored from the distribution center, making sure that it does not interfere with any flights in the area or experience flight issues due to weather or mechanical malfunctions. 

When the drone is about to reach the remote hospital, it sends a text message to the receiver. Once it arrives, it drops the medical supplies and begins its return back to the Zipline distribution center to get ready for its next flight. Zipline claims that its distribution centers cover a 50-mile radius with the ability to reach hospitals in 30 minutes. Zipline’s system has helped people in Rwanda, Ghana, Nigeria, America, and Japan, with future plans to build a distribution center in Ireland.

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