Drone deliveries of blood and medicine are about to begin in the US
Zipline, a California-based startup, will begin using drones to deliver blood and some medications to remote locations in the US, according to the Verge.
Zipline, which launched in 2014 with the assistance of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, has already been using drones to deliver medicine and blood samples in rural Rwanda through a partnership with the country’s government.
The hope is that the drones will be able to deliver much-needed medical supplies to areas that are otherwise hard to access. Keller Rinaudo, Zipline’s founder and CEO, said that he expects the delivery program will start serving remote communities in Maryland, Nevada, and Washington, including some American Indian reservations. He added that it is in these areas where the greatest health outcome inequalities in the country are observed.
The use of drones for medical purposes has long been anticipated and is now taking off. Back in June, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine teamed with the drone startup Flirtey to test a drone carrying medical supplies in Cape May, New Jersey as members of the United Nations’ humanitarian arm observed. Meanwhile, Microsoft has made use of drones to search for mosquitoes infected with the Zika virus outside of Houston. However, commercial use of delivery drones in the US has been constrained by regulatory barriers.
Drones turned the corner in 2015 to become a popular consumer device, while a framework for regulation that legitimizes drones in the US began to take shape. Technological and regulatory barriers still exist to further drone adoption.
Drone manufacturers and software providers are quickly developing technologies like geo-fencing and collision avoidance that will make flying drones safer. The accelerating pace of drone adoption is also pushing governments to create new regulations that balance safety and innovation.
Safer technology and better regulation will open up new applications for drones in the commercial sector, including drone delivery programs like Amazon’s Prime Air and Google’s Project Wing initiatives.
Jonathan Camhi, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed drones report that forecasts sales revenues for consumer, enterprise, and military drones. It also projects the growth of drone shipments for consumers and enterprises.
The report details several of world’s major drone suppliers and examines trends in drone adoption among several leading industries. Finally, it examines the regulatory landscape in several markets and explains how technologies like obstacle avoidance and drone-to-drone communications will impact drone adoption.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:
- We project revenues from drones sales to top $12 billion in 2021, up from just over $8 billion last year.
- Shipments of consumer drones will more than quadruple over the next five years, fueled by increasing price competition and new technologies that make flying drones easier for beginners.
- Growth in the enterprise sector will outpace the consumer sector in both shipments and revenues as regulations open up new use cases in the US and EU, the two biggest potential markets for enterprise drones.
- Technologies like geo-fencing and collision avoidance will make flying drones safer and make regulators feel more comfortable with larger numbers of drones taking to the skies.
- Right now FAA regulations have limited commercial drones to a select few industries and applications like aerial surveying in the agriculture, mining, and oil and gas sectors.
- The military sector will continue to lead all other sectors in drone spending during our forecast period thanks to the high cost of military drones and the growing number of countries seeking to acquire them.
In full, the report:
- Compares drone adoption across the consumer, enterprise, and government sectors.
- Breaks down drone regulations across several key markets and explains how they’ve impacted adoption.
- Discusses popular use cases for drones in the enterprise sector, as well as nascent use case that are on the rise.
- Analyzes how different drone manufacturers are trying to differentiate their offerings with better hardware and software components.
- Explains how drone manufacturers are quickly enabling autonomous flight in their products that will be a major boon for drone adoption.