Robo-Pigeon UAVs Transport Medical Supplies

[] It’s always nice to see innovative uses of military hardware
designed to -gasp- help people for a change. The South African National
Health Laboratory Service has been testing prototype UAVs designed to
transport (or even airdrop) testing materials and medical supplies to
communities that are otherwise impossible or nearly impossible to get

An approach was made by the NHLS to what was then
Denel Aerospace Systems (now Denel Dynamics), with a view to the
production of a prototype UAV, which NHLS specified should have
autonomous takeoff (from an NHLS lab site) and GPS-directed navigation
capability, with a payload capacity of 500g and the ability to deliver
up to 12 standard-sized sputum jars containing specimen and sterilising
fluid over a range of 40km, and to perform a precision autonomous
landing at NHLS-defined GPS co-ordinates at the remote site (the rural
clinic), where it should also be capable of return launch to base. This
aircraft could be used for specimen transport, and is probably ideal
for the delivery of urgently required, lifesaving therapeutic agents
such as rabies-immune globulin, NHLS antivenoms, two units of whole
blood, or critically needed medications…

It’s a pretty slick system, and is designed to work without much in the way of human supervision, even in lousy weather.