Around the world, more than 2-billion people lack adequate access to essential medical products, often due to challenging terrain and gaps in infrastructure – and, because of this, about 2,9-million children under age five die every year.
Meanwhile, up to 150 000 pregnancy-related deaths could be avoided each year if mothers had reliable access to safe blood.
A Silicon Valley start-up is addressing the problem using drones to deliver medical supplies, and is starting off by dropping needed blood in Rwanda.
Zip is a small robot airplane designed for a high level of safety, using many of the same approaches as commercial airliners. It can carry vaccines, medicine, or blood. A fleet of Zips is able to provide for a population of millions.
A health worker can place an order by text message and, within minutes, a Zip is prepared and launched into the sky.
With a top speed of 100kph, Zip arrives faster than any other mode of transport, and no pilot is required.
The medical products are then dropped off, landing gently and accurately at the health facility in an open area the size of a few parking spaces.
Through a partnership with the Government of Rwanda, Zipline will deliver all blood products for 20 hospitals and health centres, improving access to healthcare for millions of Rwandans.