“Our mission is to provide access to health for everyone on earth,” says Conor French of Zipline Medical Drone Delivery.
It’s a bold statement, but at the Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas, French emphasized that the supply of medical drones is democratizing access to supplies around the world.
“There are many communities that have no access to essentials,” French says, pointing out that a lack of road infrastructure, limited supplies, or perishability all contribute to difficulties with the equitable distribution of medical supplies like blood products, vaccine supplies, and more with zipline supplies today to all countries in Africa. “These differences have very real health and societal costs, and we designed Zipline to solve these problems.”
Zipline doesn’t just work in developing countries: This year the company is starting test runs in the U.S. Wherever zipline and drone deliveries work, French says there is an opportunity to expand distribution without additional noise, pollution, traffic, or collisions.
The regulatory environment in the USA compared to international developments
When asked how the US regulatory environment compares to the international landscape – and whether or not the US maintains a leadership position in aviation – French said US regulators would begin to admit the way change how they rate the risk of drone operations.
“The bottom line is that safety comes first – period,” says French. “… but based on what we learned, we would challenge the US to learn from some of these other countries. America needs to look at the big picture of whether or not a UAS program will make a community safer – that is the only way to determine whether an operation is in the public interest. “
French also advises that drones are allowed to fly in order to obtain the necessary data to accurately assess safety and inform regulations. “Solving real problems for Americans will give us the feedback we need to determine the value of a program,” he says. “We’re seeing other countries take quick steps to help their citizens: in the US we’re using a frame designed around passenger planes that weigh thousands of pounds and carry hundreds of people … designed for a 747 for a 40 – Pound styrofoam plane flying a fixed route. These have fundamentally different risk profiles. “
“We need to start by comparing the benefits and risks of UAS with the benefits and risks of the status quo. We cannot afford to wait years for the rules to take effect. It takes a commitment on us to demand bolder results. Our communities count on us. “
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional marketplace for drone services, and a passionate observer of the emerging drone industry and regulatory environment for drones. Author of over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space, Miriam is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high-tech sales and marketing for emerging technologies.
For advice or writing in the drone industry, email Miriam.
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