The use of UAVs for global public health missions has been growing significantly over the last two years. Healthcare organizations globally are now using drones to solve common logistics challenges by circumventing problematic transportation infrastructures – particularly in areas where no reliable, rapid transportation system exists for time and temperature-sensitive items such as blood specimens and vaccines.
In developing nations and areas with mountainous terrain, deserts, and forests, roads often become impassable. Air transportation like a helicopter or sea plane is often expensive and unaffordable. Island nations and territories often rely on boat transportation that can be slow and unreliable – or nonexistent after a major weather event such as a hurricane.
Projects such as Skyfire’s November 2019 43-mile, open-ocean crossing for the United States Virgin Islands Department of Health illustrate that drones are efficient, cost-effective alternatives to traditional methods of transport. High-endurance UAVs can be used to transport critical medical payloads such as blood, virus testing kits, specimens, biologicals, and vaccines at a fraction of the time and cost. In the case of the USVI, typical transport time with conventional methods was reduced from two weeks to under two hours. Best of all, the UAS is nearly immune to natural disasters such as the two, back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes that disabled conventional ground, sea, and air transport methods several years ago.
For more information about the world-first test for the USVI DOH, please visit: