A team of doctors and scientists has successfully delivered insulin from Ireland to an island off the coast by drone.
According to ABC News the flight marked the first autonomous drone flight of its kind over the north Atlantic.
Dr. Spyridoula Maraka, an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, who worked on the project, told ABC the key distinctions were that the flight was autonomous and that the drone left the line of sight. The drone traveled from the city of Galway to the island of Inis Mor in the Aran Islands roughly 35 miles away. According to a statement from NUI Galway the successful flight will ensure better accessibility for patients in remote areas.
“It is crucial that people with diabetes have access to their lifesaving medicine at all times, which is often challenging in remote geographic regions and in times of natural disasters. Recent severe weather events, including storms Emma and Ophelia, demonstrated a clear need to develop the capability to deliver insulin and other critical medications (such as glucagon) in times of crisis.”
In addition to delivering the medicine the drone also returned carrying blood samples.
The flight is an innovation in healthcare delivery that was inspired by a period of extreme weather in Ireland that cut some patients off from their medicine.
Dr. Maraka lauded the successful drone delivery as an important step towards developing new methods to supply medical help to isolated communities, telling ABC:
“This was an important milestone. The way we envision it, drone delivery can be used during emergency situations, and in the future maybe even in regular situations.”
“Drone delivery has endless possibilities, it can help us connect with our patient communities,” she added.
It’s proper that people are skeptical of drones and their uses generally, they are after all often used both to conduct surveillance and to bomb people, but this appears to be one case of a drone being used purely for good.
h/t: ABC News