Drones are being tested to deliver medicines and vaccines to hard-to-reach locations


Humanitarian aid organisation Direct Relief is working with MSD, Softbox, AT&T and Volans-i to demonstrate the potential of using drones to safely supply temperature-dependent medicines and vaccines to locations that are difficult to reach.

In the last test, a drone was able to fly over the Bahamas, beyond the operator’s line of sight. It made use of live, continuous temperature tracking throughout the flight, with cloud-based, real-time data analysis and collection.

Richard Wood, Director of Digital Connected Technologies at Softbox, said: “This most recent proof-of-concept test has once again demonstrated the capabilities of the Softbox SKYPOD for the transportation of life-saving medicines, this time at ultra-low temperatures. To ensure full track and trace throughout the test flight Softbox utilized Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and data dashboard services provided by AT&T. The data collected during the successful flights has shown everybody involved the power of IoT to provide full visibility of the cold chain, even in the most extreme environments while using innovative transportation modes.”

Previously, the collaborators had conducted test flights in Switzerland and Puerto Rico. They are now planning on advancing the pilot program so that the technology can be trialled in Africa and Latin America.