ProjectThe Drones Doing Good Alliance
The commercial unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sector, commonly referred to as the drone sector, is developing rapidly. It has become clear that this technology can play a vital role in delivering critical health care products. However, it is less clear when drones should be used in preference to other available mobility options, such as motorbikes, trucks or boats, in terms of maximising impact, saving the most lives and ensuring value for money for governments, hospitals and end clients in low- and middle-income countries.
This is the first project of the The Drones Doing Good (DDG) Alliance which was created to promote the smart, efficient and sustainable use of drones for the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A systems change approach was applied to this work, which supported the localisation of the technology and brought together a diverse group of partners in order to achieve the objectives of this project.
This project set out to understand in which cases and under what conditions it make sense to deliver critical medical products with a drone. The DDG Alliance set out to answer this question by conducting a practical proof of concept based on field research in Ethiopia and Nigeria and test flights in Ethiopia. We focused specifically on working together to enable African technology and health logistics start-up, LifeBank, to expand their multimodal operations to include drones. The project was supported by the Business Partnership Fund of the UK Government which leveraged co-funding brought in by Airbus BizLab and Merck. In addition, Airbus BizLab and Merck provided in-kind support including testing facilities and industry knowledge while Dr. Hans-Peter Thamm was our drone expert and lead pilot.
The proof of concept was successfully conducted and the key findings and response to the project question are captured in the final publication. The final publication highlights the key factors that guide operators on when to use drones. Recommendations are also enclosed for ecosystem actors on how to influence the changeable factors and enable the smart, cost-effective, efficient and commercially viable use of drones for critical health care. A separate mid-way report captures the process undertaken for the selection of the drone.
The DDG Alliance will continue to work on enabling local companies in middle and low-income countries to be pioneers in the use of UAVs for positive impact, whether in health, agriculture or other sectors that are important to achieving the SDGs. We will be doing this by focusing on two area in the future; a multi-country pilot to follow up on the success of the POC and by working on localising the manufacturing of drone technology in Africa.