Rwandan officials launched the country’s first blood delivery UAV on 14 October. The programme has been in development for some months in conjunction with US drone manufacturer Zipline. The aim is to use the aircraft to deliver blood to hard-to-reach rural hospitals across Rwanda. This system is thought to be the world’s first regular national drone delivery system.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame was present at the launch, even stepping in to release one of the drones from a launch catapult. Initially, the fixed-wing drones will deliver blood to 21 clinics in rural areas.
The UAVs can travel up to 93 miles (150 km) and up to a speed of 62 mph (100 kph), cutting down delivery time significantly in a country that has poor infrastructure in its rural areas. The blood can be requested via text by a health professional and will be delivered to them within half an hour.
“Rwandans have learned to embrace innovation, especially when it is clear that it can help us solve the challenges we face,” said President Kagame. “I hope that this project will inspire more innovation and entrepreneurship in commercially viable technologies in Rwanda.”