UPS creates partnership for humanitarian drone service
The UPS Foundation has set up a partnership with robotics company Zipline and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to explore using drones for delivering life-saving medicines across the world. The UPS Foundation has awarded an $800,000 grant to support the initial launch of this initiative in Rwanda – and UPS believes the Rwanda drone network could be a potential model for other countries.
In a statement issued today (9 May), Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation and chief diversity and inclusion officer at UPS, said: “Public-private partnerships are the key to solving many of the world’s challenges, with each partner contributing its unique expertise.
“UPS is always exploring innovative ways to enhance humanitarian logistics to help save lives, and we’re proud to partner with Gavi and Zipline as we explore ways to extend the Rwandan government’s innovations at a global scale.”
As previously reported by Post&Parcel, the Rwandan government is set to start using Zipline drones later this year. The drones can make up to 150 deliveries per day of life-saving blood to 21 transfusing facilities located in the western half of the country.
“Our partnership with UPS and Zipline is an exciting step into a new territory for the delivery of medical supplies,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “It is a totally different way of delivering vaccines to remote communities and we are extremely interested to learn if UAVs can provide a safe, effective way to make vaccines available for some of the hardest-to-reach children.”
While Rwanda’s national drone network is initially focused on the delivery of blood supplies, the plan is to expand the initiative to include vaccines, treatments for HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and many other essential and lifesaving medicines.