Drone technology is progressing at an astonishing rate. Even when we look at the consumer markets, UAVs like the DJI Mavic and Phantom are far beyond the capabilities of what even commercial drones could do a decade ago. When we look at commercial and custom drones for civil purposes, the technology is nothing short of astounding, and even for industry insiders it can be a shock to see just how far we’ve come.
One way that progress is apparent, is in how drones can now be used to deliver payloads in critical scenarios. In fact, it’s not out of the question that drone technology of the near future could be used to save lives.
Drones for Critical Medical Cargo
Lab samples, medication, and even organs, are just some examples of where speedy delivery can make the difference between life and death. Sometimes, delivery over road networks means that packages simply don’t reach their destinations in time.
When minutes and even seconds can matter, the use of drones for transporting medical cargo makes for a strong argument.
Drones can travel faster than vehicles over short distances within a city. They don’t need to navigate through traffic or follow road laws, and they can take a direct line between two medical facilities. Whichever way you look at it, using drones to deliver medical packages seems like the ideal solution.
In Switzerland, trials are already underway to explore the feasibility of transporting lab samples. Companies involved in testing hope to progress to regular deployment next year. Swiss Post will be the carrier, serving hospitals in Ticino, one of the country’s key regions, with more than 350,000 residents.
This will be one of the first ever uses of drones for widespread commercial delivery operations, even beating Amazon’s Prime Air service, which is still in testing in the United Kingdom.
Other Potential Drone Applications
Delivering lab samples and possibly medicine in the future, could definitely allow drones to play a part in saving lives and improving healthcare. However, that’s not the only way that drones are making an impact when it comes to public health and safety.
In the UK, police are already testing drones for tracking missing persons and for use in search and rescue situations. Drones could be used to deliver essential survival equipment before rescuers or helicopters are able to reach people in distress.
In Latvia, commercial drone company Aerones has even begun testing drones that are capable of lifting people, which could mean that in the future, drones could be used for extraction where it is not safe for rescue workers or traditional rescue helicopters to operate. Aerones already has a commercial drone that can carry up to 100kg of cargo, so achieving twice that payload doesn’t seem to be out of the question, and would make real-world drone rescues much more feasible. The company has already demonstrated that their testing drones can lift people, and they’ve even developed a system where a drone can be used as an aerial firefighter, tethered to a ground based hose and water source.
The Horizon Looks Bright for Drone Technology
The advancement of UAV technology is already changing the world in so many ways. For many, a future where drones are used in healthcare and even search and rescue, would represent a pinnacle achievement in the history of the industry. If recent developments are anything to go by, the coming months and years will only strengthen the fact that drones represent essential technology for society as a whole.