The world’s first drone delivery of diabetes medicine was completed successfully last year in Ireland, and now a new paper from the scientists involved has given more details on the operation.
The 16-minute flight saw insulin delivered safely from Galway to the Aran Islands, 12 miles off the west coast of Ireland.
Ireland was particularly invested in the technology because a number of storms in recent years had prevented delivery to patients in remote areas.
However, the coronavirus pandemic has added a completely new significance to the BVLOS test flight, which could pave the way for similar deliveries during lockdown.
Quoted in the Journal of the Endocrine Society, principal investigator Derek O’Keefe said: “We now have the drone technology and protocols in place to deliver diabetes medications and supplies in an actual disaster if needed.”
Meanwhile, Dr Spyridoula Maraka discussed one of the obstacles the team had to overcome: “Insulin can be outside the fridge for hours, but it can’t be exposed to extreme heat, so we put it in an insulated parcel with temperature monitoring en route.”
The team added that as well as medical hurdles, there were difficulties involving flight permissions and regulation to consider, but that they pulled it off successfully on the first attempt.