The initial testing and diagnostic flights of drones at the first emergency medical distribution centre at Omenako in the Eastern Region is set to begin this month.
The tests, to be carried out by Zipline, the world’s first national-scale drone delivery service, come ahead of the official launch of the full drone delivery of emergency medical supplies by the end of the second quarter of the year.
A senior official of Zipline Ghana, Mr Daniel Marfo, made this known to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, said the trials formed part of preparatory works by the company towards obtaining an operational licence from the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to enable it to fly to the various destinations outlined in the plan.
“We are testing how the drones will fly and be recovered within the operational area only for now”, he said and added that “it is part of our preparatory works to ensure that all is set for the official launch of this very important project by the end of April”.
Mr Marfo said the tests, which would be in two stages, would commence with a technical test where there would be no delivery of medicinal supplies to any hospital.
The second stage would involve flying water packages to health facilities as part of efforts to primarily test the various landing sites.
“After successful tests, the new service will be launched to use drones to make on-demand emergency deliveries of life-saving medications to more than 2,000 health facilities across the country,” he stated.
“The delivery service will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Zipline said in a release.
It added that the Ghana Health Service (GHS) had selected 148 life-saving medical products to be stocked at Zipline’s four distribution centres nationwide.
The release said each of the four distribution centres to be spread across the country would be staffed by a team of 35 Ghanaian engineers and logistics personnel, equipped with at least 20 drones to make 600 on-demand delivery flights a day.
“Together, all four distribution centres will be capable of making at least 600 on-demand delivery flights a day,” the release stated.
The released said the drones could carry 1.75 kilos of cargo, cruise at 110 kilometres (km) per hour and have an all-weather round trip range of 160 kilometers.
Ahead of the launch of its initial testing and diagnostic flights this month, the release said, the company would educate the public on the safety and security features of its drone delivery service.