The Philippine Red Cross has partnered with Zipline, the world’s first and only national-scale drone delivery service, in making on-demand and emergency blood deliveries by drone across the Philippines.
Aside from blood from the Philippine Red Cross, over 150 critical and life-saving medical products will also be made deliverable by using a network of autonomous drones to make on-demand emergency deliveries. This national-scale blood drone delivery service is expected to launch in the summer of 2020 with 24/7 operations.
Zipline plans to establish three distribution centers that will be capable of making hundreds of deliveries per day, with the first of its three distribution centers planned in the Visayas region, with potential expansion to eastern Visayas and Mindanao.
“The Philippine Red Cross will soon be able to reach patients at hospitals across the country on-demand within minutes,” said Senator Richard J. Gordon and Red Cross chairman. “We’re going to use drones to bring you the life-saving blood you need right away,” he continues.
“Millions of people in the Philippines can’t access the vital medical products they need because of last-mile transportation challenges,” said Zipline CEO Kelle Rinaudo. “Zipline’s instant drone delivery service was designed to help solve that problem.”
Also present during the press conference and signing of the agreement was US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, and U2 frontman and philanthropist Bono, who happens to be a board member of Zipline.
“Music is my passion but actually Zipline is where all my other passions come together,” shared the U2 frontman. “Which is the idea that commerce should serve people and not people should serve commerce. The idea that the brightest minds shine brighter when they work for vulnerable lives.”
How does Zipline’s service work? Health workers will place orders by text message and they will be able to receive their deliveries in 30 minutes on average. The drones will both take off and land at Zipline’s distribution centers. The drones can fly autonomously and can carry 1.8kg of cargo, they can also fly up to 145kph and have a 160km round trip range. Each Zipline distribution center can deliver to an area of more than 20,000 square miles (51,000 square kilometers) and can serve up to 12 million people. Drone deliveries will be done from a safe height above the ground, by releasing a box of medicine by parachute to a designated spot at the health centers it serves.