Many of today’s humanitarian efforts employ UAVs to aid in everything from telemedicine to disaster response. Here are some of the ways humanitarian drones are changing the industry - and the world.
Drones for Medicine
Many hospital firms have several facilities within the same area and need to transport diagnostic or blood samples from one to the other frequently. The speed and reliability of these deliveries are critical for the health of patients, and lives can be endangered if transfers don’t happen as quickly as possible. Drones can convey diagnostic samples or medicine more reliably and with lower costs than cars.
The main hospital group in the Swiss Canton of Ticino has been testing Matternet drones to transport lab samples between two of their facilities in the city of Lugano and has announced plans for the first regular service for early 2018. It will be the first ever commercial deployment of drones in an urban area, operated by the Swiss Post and fully approved by the country’s aviation regulators, FOCA.
Each medical package will be transported by a UAV able to carry a weight of up to five pounds as far as 13 miles and with a top speed of 22 miles per hour. The drone will fly autonomously along a pre-planned and authorized route and make a precision landing guided by infrared sensors.
The World Health Organisation states that there are 1.3 billion to 2.1 billion people today without access to essential medication. Now, health centers in Rwanda can send a text message to order blood and essential medications. Drones are also delivering medical samples in Papua New Guinea on behalf of Doctors Without Borders and in Bhutan for the World Health Organization. Malawi and UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund) launched an air corridor last week to test the effectiveness of drones in humanitarian emergencies and similar uses in Africa. “Drone technology has many potential applications ... One that we have already tested in Malawi is to transport infant blood samples to laboratories for HIV testing," explained UNICEF Malawi Resident Representative, Johannes Wedenig.
Drones for the Environment
In addition to transporting goods cheaper and faster than cars (since they can travel in a straight line and free from traffic), there is less environmental impact by drones than by cars. Drones will help achieve ‘on demand’ delivery, a concept that even the best logistics companies struggle with today - while alleviating congestion and environmental impacts on the cities of the future.
Drones can also be used to monitor oil spills. Oil is essential to survival for economies across the world, but can easily create environmental contamination. As such, it’s critical that the oil rigs are accurately monitored for production, safety, and environmental compliance. Drones equipped with cameras can detect corrosion, provide an analysis of cracks, and detect any spills or leaks far more accurately and safely than it would be to employ a team to perform the same checks manually.
Drones for Insect and Animal Control
Microsoft created Project Premonition with the intention of identifying areas where mosquitoes with Zika virus, dengue fever, and other mosquito-borne illnesses may be congregating. The team recently built a mosquito trap smart enough to identify different breeds of the bug and notify health officials in the area when disease-ridden mosquitoes have flown into them. The project’s researchers plan to use drones with special vision technology to monitor sampling sites, place traps in hard-to-reach places, and remotely check traps in the near future.
Drones are protecting people from elephants pillaging in rural Tanzania. Local Kusekwa Elias explains, “The elephants destroy our food. Children sleep hungry...you cultivate acres, only to find out the elephants have eaten them all.” The number of elephants has increased more than 250%, and there is nothing preventing animals from wandering into areas inhabited by humans.
In some areas, drones are now serving as a peaceful (albeit bizarre) solution. In order to keep elephants safely away from people and their crops, park rangers use drones from a few miles away. The elephants steer clear of drones, likely because they are large, unfamiliar objects that mimic the sound made by a swarm of bees.
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As an industry leader in component design and production for UAV and multi-rotor systems, KDE Direct is pleased to remain the leading choice amongst humanitarians who depend upon industrial quality and performance. KDE Direct heavy lift brushless motors, carbon fiber propeller blades and specialized electronic speed controller (ESC) systems and software have set the standard in the multi-rotor industry.