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Drones to Save Lives


When you hear the word drone what do you think of? The cool new gadget that everyone wants to take panoramic photos with? The illegal flying robot that is constantly in the news for being in restricted air space? Or the drones that are used in war to save military lives? To many people, drones either represent good or bad. They’re ruled good because they can save lives in risky operations and provide a form of entertainment for some people. They’re ruled bad and dangerous because they can be navigated from anywhere in the world, and are capable of killing. Drones are not only capable of saving military lives in dangerous operations, but civilian lives too. Drones are being used as a service to deliver medical supplies, whether it’s blood or other biological matter. The vibrations and temperature changes during short drone flights have not had a visible impact on the material.“Researchers are finding that delicate tissue samples, organs for transplant, bacteria cultures, and blood products … appear to withstand vibration and temperature changes.” Pathologist from John Hopkins University, Timothy Amukele, has conducted tests proving that the human blood and pathology samples flown “on drones for up to three hours” had no ill effects. This technology is faster and cheaper. This product is still young and more technology is still being developed for it, but it has already been making a huge impact in the medical field. Time sensitive materials have already been transported by cars or helicopters to patients in need but utilizing drones will save money and time. Rwanda has already been using the drone service provided by Zipline International Inc. to deliver vaccines, platelets, and other necessary medical materials. These hospital officials have noticed a difference and claim that what “normally takes three hours or more in local traffic was done in 15 minutes.” The clear air space really expedites drone flights and gets medical materials to hospitals in need faster. Drone companies have been experimenting in developing countries because of the clear air space and lax government restrictions. The unpredictable weather and terrain is giving these drone companies the experience and education that will help them expand into more populated places. These same drone companies, like Zipline, are expanding their services to other countries like Tanzania for the same medical services. This service is really saving lives by delivering the needed resources to save women from childbirth, accident victims, or patients in need. It is revolutionizing African hospitals, helping save more lives than typical deliveries. The World Health Organization says that “in rural Africa, about two billion people lack adequate access to essential medical care due to challenging terrain and roads.” The drones expedite travel time because they can fly over rugged terrain and traffic. Third world countries aren’t the only ones to experience this innovation and advanced way of receiving supplies. Zipline International Inc. is expanding into first world countries like Switzerland. They are conducting similar medical delivery services and are trying to expand their operations to Germany by 2018, and eventually the U.S.

How will this affect the rest of the world?  

The U.S. has rules for every state that defines what drones can and cannot do. They still are restricted from entering certain air spaces and cannot interfere with passenger or cargo flights. Because of these restrictions, drones have not been utilized as a delivery service in the U.S. yet but the Trump administration is hoping to expand drone use. The Federal Aviation Administration will be conducting tests over the next couple of years and if these medical delivery services are approved, it may lower hospital fees. The costs estimated for Switzerland’s use of drones, is 40% cheaper than if they used other methods of delivery. Advancement in these medical services, has fueled the creation of other services that drones could provide. Many startups are conducting trials for food delivery or consumer goods. This overall delivery service, will lower the amount we pay for shipping and service but this lack of need for human labor, will seriously deplete some industries that focus solely on delivery services, like UPS. Soon, we may be receiving products via drone instead of a human courier.     Original Sources: Wall Street Journal Image: Afrika News