WeRobotics to work with WHO and the Gates Foundation on medical drone deliveries

International humanitarian organisation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be funding WeRobotics, with a view to expand the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) understanding and use of drone delivery.

This project – which is being advanced and coordinated by WHO’s African Regional Office (AFRO) – will entail WeRobotics working with Zipline, WHO Ghana and Ghana Flying Labs on maintaining continuous drone deliveries in Ghana; and with Aerial Metric, WHO Madagascar, and Madagascar Flying Labs for the deliveries in that country.

The full set of deliveries has already been completed in Ghana, while in Madagascar they will be coming soon.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a not-for profit organisation founded by billionaire Bill Gates – the founder of Microsoft – and his wife Melinda. Its sole aim is to improve lives all over the world by focusing on areas like housing, education, health, general service delivery and technology. It also partners with various organisations around the world to identify issue, find answers and drive change.

And in the area of inspiring change through drone technology, there might be no organisations better placed than WeRobotics, which has established a network of Flying Labs all over the Global South, equipping them with the right knowledge so they lead the quest for drone-based solutions to issues in their respective countries.

“The purpose of this project is to directly inform WHO’s operational understanding of drone delivery services to transport patient samples,” said WeRobotics in a statement. “This means gaining a clear understanding of the operational workflows, technical and regulatory requirements, costs, and time-savings from using existing drone delivery systems such as Zipline’s in Ghana and Aerial Metric’s in Madagascar.

“While the project serves as a comparative analysis between drone delivery in Ghana and Madagascar, its purpose is not to suggest that one system or model is better than the other (they are very different albeit complementary). Instead, the aim is to build WHO’s internal understanding of drone delivery services to make the most of the various systems and models that already exist.”

Through its Flying Labs network, WeRobotics has previously delivered medicines with drones before, in the DRC, Tanzania, Brazil, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

“We hope to share these insights (of the works in Ghana and Madagascar) later in the year, along with the design of our operational study, once we’ve completed all drone deliveries and analysed all the data collected,” WeRobotics said. “In the meantime, we will also begin the next phases of this multi-year project with WHO/AFRO and the Gates Foundation.

“We’ll share more details on these towards the second half of 2021 once we’re further along. For now, we want to express our sincerest thanks to WHO/AFRO, WHO Ghana and Madagascar, and the Gates Foundation for making this project possible.

“WHO’s leadership, dedication, and commitment to this project continue to make all the difference and explain why this project has taken off quickly. Ghana and Madagascar Flying Labs are also playing instrumental roles in this project. We’re very grateful for the opportunity to work with all these strong partners and to learn from them as we all continue to wrestle with a global pandemic.”


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