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Medical supplies to be delivered by drone in Tanzania with British government backing

Posted on : Saturday , 15th July 2017

 A trial of drone-delivered medical supplies in Tanzania is to be funded in part by the UK government, according to reports.

 
Also involving Silicon Valley start-up Zipline, the scheme is aiming to reduce the amount of time it takes to get blood and other medical supplies around the country.
 
According to the BBC, the Department for International Development (Dfid) is backing the scheme, which Zipline is already running in Rwanda.
 
It works by using Zipline’s range of drones, which are called Zips, to deliver packages. The Zips are small fixed wing aircraft that are fired from a catapult to take off and then follow pre-programmed flight paths using GPS location data.
 
They also fly below 150 metres to avoid any other aircraft.
 
When they approach their destination the Zips drop their altitude to around five metres before releasing their load using paper parachutes. They then turn around and return to their start point.
 
The Zips can handle cargo up to 1.5kg.
 
A spokeswoman for Dfid said: “Flights are planned to start in early 2017, and when they do it is estimated that [the] UAVs could support over 50,000 births a year, cutting down the time mothers and new-borns would have to wait for life-saving medicine to 19 minutes – reduced from the 110 minutes traditional transport methods would take.”
 
A recent survey on drone use by the Humanitarian UAV Network praised the work Zipline has been doing in Africa, noting that launch sites for their drones can be set up in 24 hours and therefore useful in rapid response situations.
 
However, the scale drone delivery needed to reach in order to actually need humanitarian needs was still some way off, the research said, adding that such cargo is often measured in tonnes rather than kilograms.
 
“Given these current trade-offs relative to manned aviation, the specific cases in which cargo drones can currently add value are particularly narrow in the context of the universe of needs that humanitarian organisations typically face,” the study said.

Source : www.expogr.com/medexpo

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