Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Friday launched the world’s first national drone delivery service at a ceremony in Kigali. This comes at a time when U.S. regulatory agencies are yet to clear any kind of commercial drone delivery service here in this country.
Rwandan Drone Delivery Service First of Its Kind
The drone delivery service will make up to 150 on-demand, emergency deliveries per day of life-saving blood. The blood will be delivered to 21 transfusing facilities located in the western half of the country, where poor roads and healthcare infrastructure make it difficult to reach patients in need.
But even if the delivery service isn’t here, the drones that helped launch it are built and operated by an American robotics company, Zipline of San Francisco, California. An international partnership between Zipline, UPS, Gavi (the Bill Gates-backed vaccine fund) and the Vaccine Alliance will help Rwanda quickly expand the types of lifesaving vaccines and medicines that can be delivered.
“Drones are very useful, both commercially and for improving services in the health sector. We are happy to be launching this innovative technology and to continue working with partners to develop it further,” said Pres. Kagame, according to the official release from UPS.
According to UPS, which has supported the project with a $1.1 million (USD) grant through The UPS Foundation, the commercial partnership between Rwanda and the companies is expected to save thousands of lives over the next three years. The partnership also hopes to use the knowledge gained in Rwanda to export this delivery service around the world.
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“The shared belief in the ability to save lives through applied innovation, combined with Rwanda’s vision, is now not only poised to advance humanitarian logistics — and logistics as we know it — around the world, but also to save lives,” said Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation and chief diversity and inclusion officer at UPS. Martinez’s remarks were also included in the company’s official release.