Startup saving lives with drone blood delivery

December 17, 2018

The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center makes thousands of deliveries of blood and blood products every year, serving hospitals and clinics in an area larger than many states.

But in some parts of the world, blood deliveries are more of a struggle because of poor roads and difficult terrain.

That’s where a Bay Area startup called Zipline has found a way to deliver blood using drones.

In 2016, the company signed an agreement with the Rwanda government to deliver critically needed blood and medical supplies to rural areas using the unmanned aircraft.

The contract has been expanded to reach Rwanda’s entire population, the company’s CEO told the WIRED25 summit recently, and plans are in the works with the government of Ghana.

CEO Keller Rinaudo told the audience that using the mini airplanes for lifesaving services could help make drones more acceptable to U.S. regulators, who have been leery of the technology. A pilot program is in the works for rural regions of North Carolina.

Zipline produced a video of the delivery system in Rwanda, from packing supplies to launch to delivery, as well as interviews with doctors and patients.

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