UAV medical couriers

We’re skeptical about most technology that’s designed to help remote villages (yes, even that one), but these new UAV medical couriers look like a great idea. The turn around time for medical sample analysis in remote South African villages can be excruciating. A team of engineers have attempted to adapt two different unmanned aerial vehicles for transport of medical samples. These could be either blood or saliva that needs testing. Test results would be relayed via phone as they are now, but the initial transport time would be much faster. The larger of the two UAVs can carry up to 500g; that’s enough to haul two units of blood for transfusion. The UAVs can be launched by hand and can survive winds up to 45kph. They fly their preprogrammed routes autonomously and don’t require any operator intervention. The team has flown two successful trials and is waiting for approval from the South African Civil Aviation Authority. For safety, they’re only transporting samples that can be sterilized before flight. New Scientist has a short video after the break.


  1. Man On Fire says:

    It’s about time UAVs got used for something other than blowing stuff up.

  2. Dimme says:

    Are there any schemes of how they are built?
    Isn’t the battery heavy? The engine? Is these a tiny Computer
    that reads the GPS or is this accomplished just with some
    micro controllers?

  3. Man On Fire says:

    Dimme: do some research on radio-control aircraft.

    modern brushless electric motors and lithium-polymer batteries are auite lightweight

    and yes. micro-controllers and a standard GPS module.

  4. therian says:

    Bloody bomb

  5. Wwhat says:

    Yep, airborne AIDS infected blood (or other plagues), good plan.

  6. spaceballs3000 says:

    Poly-li batteries are powerful and light, but in an RC plane of that size, with a load, I don’t imagine it will go more than 20 miles. I wonder if that is still a useful range, as I would think +50 mile range is where it starts getting really useful. Also I guess they could add things like solar cells on it to extend range. Still cool idea though, hope it works well.

  7. Dano says:

    even if they only have a 20 mile range that can take quite
    a long time in some bush country. The roads are notoriously
    poor and rough. If this works out it could speed up
    processing of tests by hours in some areas.

    Sounds link a fun project too. The old speed racer mechanical
    homing pigeon!

  8. plokko says:

    lol,i want one of this things!!!

  9. Iv says:

    I am not sure of the usefullness of this vs travelling pigeons, but well…
    It will be fun when a hunter will shoot down on of these and will report that he shot down a robot that is bleeding !

    @wwhat : I know that this is humorous but in case this worries anyone, I think that AIDS does not survive very long when exposed to air.

  10. RetepV says:

    Congratz if you can make this work, guys!

    If a lot of these things start flying around, then you’ll need some collision prevention. Radar?

  11. noname says:

    radar would be excessive. look up on FLARM.

  12. big alberta james says:

    hmm, my company has beeen using the same idea / uav style
    / to small amounts of mineral samples from the dig site to base
    which is about 30 km.(canada). we use rechargable li-ion packs.
    never thought about medical application. good on them, eh.

  13. nonsquid says:

    Next stop, across the boarder with cheap Mexican meth,
    delivered right to your door. Just charge it back up,
    put your money in it and send it back. With autonomous
    subs you could deliver massive payloads, undetected.
    Funny thing about it is that we (hackers) will all be
    suspect. Perhaps we can pass a law that would make it
    illegal to suspect competent hackers as a form of profiling.
    We could wear the skull and crossed wrenches on our clothing
    as a mark like the Nazis did to the Jews.

  14. Greg says:

    UAV subs will be a little more difficult though. I seem to remember conversations here about GPS not working under water. You will have to tow a surface antenna. There goes “undetected”.

  15. bob says:

    nonsquid: heh, meth is too cheap and easy to make locally to bother smuggling 500g at a time … heroin / fentanyl / pure cocaine, maybe. Manned mini-subs have already been used for cocaine smuggling, a UUV(?) could work I suppose. Reastically though, the cartels operate on moving large quantities at a time and making so much money that it doesn’t really matter when there’s a seizure. There’s also the obvious problem of a vehicle being intercepted by the Feds, examined, then released so that they can be waiting for the narcs at the pickup site.

  16. kurye says:

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  17. kurye says:

    ow… :) enjoy..

  18. kurye says:

    thank you

  19. kurye says:


  20. kurye says:


  21. mvg says:

    UAV medical couriers – Hack a Day great article thank you.

  22. bullygram says:

    great work .i will be use full for people in remote areas!this is a great article.

  23. Liderkurye says:

    kurye perfect

  24. kurye says:

    thank you hackaday

  25. motorize says:

    en hizli kurye sirketi

  26. moto kurye says:

    thank you webmaster

  27. check up says:

    Yep, airborne AIDS infected blood (or other plagues), good plan.

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