Having a drone deliver medicine seems like something out of a sci-fi movie, but believe it or not, it’s already happening today. Given the demand for delivery drivers in densely populated areas, remote and rural communities that need medical supplies are suffering, which has caused a demand for non-human delivery methods.
In October 2019, the FAA approved a UPS request to deliver medicine via drones, a practice already being used in the UK, Ireland and Rwanda.
Companies in the mix
The top two companies behind drone deliveries of medical supplies are Zipline and Medical Drones. In addition to delivering medicine, they can deliver blood and microbiology specimens such as semen and cultures.
Now consider the importance that such instantaneous shipment could have for the healthcare field. Immediate delivery of medicine via drone could be the difference between life and death, particularly for those who live far away from hospitals. Childhood vaccines that decrease infant mortality rates could be readily available to people in rural regions. And during this pandemic, drones could be providing just-in-time delivery of test kits, reagents, medicine and, maybe one day soon, a COVID-19 vaccine.
Changing the retail landscape
But it’s not just the medical community that has jumped aboard the drone ship. While services aren’t available just yet, Amazon has long planned the launch of “Amazon Prime Air,” a drone system that could delivery all sorts of shipments in select cities. Though the first successful test delivery was done in 2016, Amazon’s plan has since been waylaid by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Amazon Prime Air has the potential to be the second time the company completely changes consumer culture. Imagine ordering a phone case and having a drone deliver it to your door within 30 minutes! That’s the type of fast and efficient delivery method Amazon imagines providing to its customers.
While automation has its downsides, like replacing human workers, it could be crucial to raising the quality of life for so many around the world.