Rwanda has launched the world’s first national drone delivery service to make up to 150 emergency deliveries per day of life-saving blood to 21 transfusing facilities located in the western half of the country.
Developed and operated by Zipline, Rwanda’s drone delivery service will at first focus on blood.
“Drones are very useful, both commercially and for improving services in the health sector. We are happy to be launching this innovative technology and to continue working with partners to develop it further,” Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s President said during the launch.
The national drone delivery programme allows blood transfusion clinics across the Western half of the country to place emergency orders via SMSs. The orders are then received by Zipline at its distribution center in the country’s Muhanga region, where the company maintains a fleet of 15 drones, called Zips.
Each Zip can fly up to 150 km, even in wind and rain and can carry 1.5kg of blood, which is enough to save a person’s life. Zips take off and land at the distribution center, and make deliveries by landing close to the ground and air dropping medicine to a selected spot called a “mailbox” near the health centers they serve.
Rwanda plans to increase the drone’s delivery service to the Eastern half of the country by early 2017, allowing the country’s 11 million citizens have accessto immediate delivery of lifesaving medicines.