3 ways drones impact healthcare


Transport of blood samples, Germany

Wingcopter drones recently carried blood samples over a distance of 26 kilometers in the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The flight time of the drones was 18 minutes on average, almost twice as fast as ground transport.

The use of Wingcopter drones could dramatically speed up emergency medical care in rural areas, which could help save lives, especially in the event of short-term blood transfusion.

The flights were carried out by the University Medical Center Greifswald, with the aim of establishing permanent air links between the medical center and surrounding hospitals as soon as possible.

Drones should also be used to assist first responders on the scene, for example by quickly transporting medication, transfusions or emergency medical equipment such as defibrillators to the scene of an accident.

Wingcopter is already engaged with the NGO WeRobotics to deliver medical products to hard-to-reach parts of the world.

Distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, India

Indian drone company Skye Air is conducting a trial to administer COVID-19 vaccines in the southern state of Telangana. As part of the “Medicines in the Sky” project, drones deliver packaged supplies in temperature-controlled boxes within a 12 km radius, which takes about 18 minutes to arrive.

With large remote areas and difficult weather events, it is hoped that the drones will help the Indian government meet its goal of vaccinating 950 million adults by the end of 2021.

Skye Air performs the tests with Dunzo digital, a hyper-local on-demand delivery service startup backed by Google. India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation has relaxed the rules for drone flights this year, giving the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) conditional exemption from national drone rules.

Disease control, Philippines and Malaysia

In 2013 the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine launched a program to monitor the progression of malaria in the Philippines and Malaysia. The Monkeybar project involved attaching thermal cameras to drones and tracking macaques, to monitor transmission from animals to humans.

Drones also helped map locations and land types, assessing how different environments affect the distribution of people and which mosquitoes and macaques contribute to the risk of infection.

A key objective was to examine how changes in the environment such as deforestation contribute to the transmission of zoonotic diseases. In the years since the project started, the world has experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, widely regarded as a zoonotic disease. Therefore, similar research can help scientists predict and avoid future outbreaks.

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