The Coronavirus pandemic does not seem to slow down. But amidst all the chaos and in this case lockdowns and social distancing, life has to continue. The supply chains are all under immense shock. The delivery trucks are not delivering any goods. In order to continue the delivery of the goods, drone technology is being used by the North Carolina Department of transportation. COVID 19 has disrupted the medical supply chain and the medical equipment must be delivered to all the hospitals and medical centers. The drones are being used to carry out the deliveries. The drones being used can achieve the speeds of 80 miles per hour. They have the payload hatch, where they can store the medical supplies of up to 4 pounds. They have a round trip range of around 100 miles
The drones are being launched by Novant Health Inc., which is in close proximity to about fifteen hospitals and 700 other medical facilities. Certain restrictions are imposed on flying drones in the city and the fact that medical supplies are being delivered through them doesn’t change that. The drone operator has to be within the sightline of the drone. This limits the range at which these drones can operate, but at the same time, they do offer social distancing and no human contact.
Drones are being deployed and operated by Zipline, which is a California based company. They have immense experience with over 40,000 deliveries made across the world. They have offered their services in Rwanda and Ghana and this is their first partnership in the USA.
Medical supplies manufacturers are seeing a ray of hope with these drones filling in for their broken medical supply chain. But these drones are not only limited to the medical supplies. In many countries such as Italy, France, China, Kuwait, etc. these drones are part of the COVID response force, tasked to monitor and enforce lockdowns. Not only that, but these drones have also been used to spray disinfectants on the streets, the most recent example being Dubai.
The coronavirus is a serious issue and the only way to fight this is by social distancing. The drones are helping us to achieve that. From taking medical supplies from medical supply manufacturers to delivering them to the hospitals and other medical centers, these drones have been a good example of how the technology can be used to fight a pandemic, especially this pandemic. These preparations might be useful in future disasters. The disruption in the medical supply chain is not something to be taken lightly, as we have experienced from this pandemic, how a disruption in the medical supply chain can cause serious havoc. The use of technology is likely to keep us ready in case there is another disaster that can disrupt the medical supply chain. The medical supply manufacturers are considering making their own fleets of delivery drones. There are some ethical concerns; such as privacy and monitoring the movement of people that arises with the use of these drones. These concerns should be mitigated if this technology is to be used in the future.