Drones deploying medical supplies & care

Drones, whether used for shooting spectacular video footage or delivering packages to your home, are one of the most recent phenomena to hit the technology space. Although the popularity of drones has expanded recently in the consumer world, the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) dates back to the First World War. Originally used for gathering military intelligence or monitoring weather patterns, UAV’s now play a fundamental role in changing an array of industries including healthcare.

With access to standard levels of healthcare services and supplies so varied around the world, leading organisations are looking to technology to advance how consistent and reliable care can be secured.

New technology in the face of challenges

Lack of infrastructure, connectivity and drivable roads can make delivering medical cargo and supplies a challenging task in some regions, particularly when it’s a remote or fragile location. Local regulations and compliance need to be taken into consideration, along with the secure level of care required for medical supplies. The use of UAV’s provides a significant opportunity to a potential solution to address these issues, and deliver an exceptional level of service.

Future Ventures

In a recent announcement made by Airbus and International SOS, the two organisations will take on these complexities in order to define and install reliable aircraft or unmanned aerial medical cargo deliveries. With the goal of supporting both preventive health program and medical emergencies, the agreement involves research into safe and secure drone delivery for hub to hub distribution of medical cargo, compliant with local regulatory bodies.

Detailed goals of the research agreement include:

  • Ensuring safe flight operations for a hub-to-hub drone delivery service

  • Planning an urban to rural or a ship to shore maritime setting

  • Using drones approved by the aviation authorities with a higher than 5 kg payload

Potential medical cargo delivery pilot cases are being explored in Singapore and Indonesia, and Airbus and International SOS will work with the local civil aviation and maritime authorities in both countries to develop these capabilities. If successful, this could be extended to International SOS operations globally.

Other potential areas of cooperation under the research agreement include support for mobile hospitals and other services.


Whether in urban or remote environments, on a ship or on shore, drone technology is seen as a structural pillar in the how organisations manage resources, make decisions and connect to one another.

Authored by: Vidya Menon Group Senior Product Manager International SOS


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