Drones, useful carriers of essentials amid virus - GulfToday

Drones, useful carriers of essentials amid virus

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The recent move by the Department of Health (DoH) - Abu Dhabi, the regulator of the healthcare sector in the emirate, to adopt advanced drones to distribute and transfer medical supplies within the healthcare sector, is truly praiseworthy.

The project, a first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa, will create a state-of-the-art delivery system and network using drones at 40 stations throughout the year 2022. The delivery and transfer system will have round-the-clock service and form part of the emergency response network available at healthcare facilities in Abu Dhabi. It aligns with the year of preparation for the “UAE Projects of the 50”, the UAE’s Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Strategy, and broader strategies to position Abu Dhabi as a global hub for innovation. Drones are also being used in Indonesia to provide a contactless medicine and food delivery service to COVID-19 patients isolating at home.

Armed with five drones, a seven-member team has been working around the clock in Makassar, the capital of the South Sulawesi province, since early July to provide deliveries.

Logistics giant DHL is coordinating with a Bulgarian aircraft developer on rolling out drones that will not only criss-cross cities but also borders.

DHL said it was already using smaller drones to carry documents, parcels and pharmaceuticals over limited distances in Germany, Tanzania and China.

The Abu Dhabi project, which is a collaboration between the DoH, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), SkyGo and Matternet, will leverage existing advanced infrastructure to transform healthcare logistics. Drones in the supply chain will be used to deliver medical supplies, medicine and blood units, vaccines and samples between laboratories, pharmacies, blood banks across healthcare facilities around the city in a safe manner. This will help in emergencies and contribute to reducing occupancy rates in healthcare facilities and enhance the quality of patient outcomes.

The project aims to ensure the overall health and safety of the community, improving the sector’s efficiency while also increasing Abu Dhabi’s emergency preparedness. Additionally, the use of drones will yield environmental benefits with a reduction in carbon emissions and reduced road traffic congestion. Moreover, the project supports the emirate’s ambition to build a knowledge-based economy by offering several technical career opportunities for UAE national talent within this emerging field.

Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Hamed, Chairman of DoH, said: ‘’Under the wise leadership and its directives, we look forward to working with our partners to make Abu Dhabi the first city in the Middle East and North Africa, to adopt and use of this technology. We will continue to deploy advanced technologies that will improve the healthcare sector for the benefit of citizens and residents.”

The whole idea is establishing the emirate as a global healthcare hub while at the same time developing a healthcare system that is fit for the future.’

The adoption and use of the advanced technologies has also enabled Abu Dhabi to respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic. Abu Dhabi has been recognised as a leading city in global rankings for its response to the pandemic.  With advanced infrastructure, Abu Dhabi is capable of serving as a test bed for promising innovations with practical use-cases, “especially those that seek to preserve the health and safety of our population. “We look forward to bringing this project to life and seeing it become one of Abu Dhabi’s pioneering initiatives.’’

Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director General of the GCAA, said “Today, we are celebrating together with our stakeholders an important milestone for drone delivery, it is a testimony moving from a concept to a reality. The advancement of drone applications and technology is fast moving, and we are pragmatically preparing the infrastructure to support drones’ smooth and safe deployments and integrations within the smart city’s ecosystem, contributing to the UAE society wellbeing.”


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