The pharmaceutical company Pfizer has partnered with the NGO WeRobotics to distribute COVID-19 vaccines in hard-to-reach areas. The industrial DJI M300 drone is taken as a starting point. WeRobotics will have the system adapted by its Flying Labs department so that it can be used to fly refrigerated vaccines.
Pfizer wants to distribute COVID-19 vaccines by drone
The collaboration between Pfizer and WeRobotics is a follow-up to an earlier pilot project in 2019, when DJI M600 drones were used to transport medication and blood samples in Nepal and the Dominican Republic, among others. Under the flag of Flying Labs, the drones were modified and local emergency workers received training in the use of the drones. The results of that trial were very promising.
The DJI M300 RTK is taken as the starting point for the new project. It can fly further and is more resistant to bad weather conditions. In addition, the drone contains sensors with which obstacles can be avoided along the way. WeRobotics will develop a cargo solution specifically for the drone. It is expected that the drone can transport 1.5 kg of vaccines per flight. The maximum range would be around 20 km.
A WeRobotics spokesperson is pleased with the collaboration: “Our new project with Pfizer comes at a particularly important time. Vaccines for COVID-19 must be widely distributed, and they must reach the most remote communities in the world. ”
For WeRobotics the main challenge is to keep complexity and costs low. That is why the organization has chosen to take industrial drones as a starting point and convert them into cargo drones. “An additional advantage is that DJI is a large company, which means that service and availability of parts is also guaranteed in the longer term.”
WeRobotics emphasizes that the M300 is certainly not the ideal drone for this purpose. “Our strong interest in the M300 drone does not mean that this drone can meet all delivery needs. No drone can do that. In addition, we focus on short-haul deliveries, while the leading players in the drone delivery industry design their drones for deliveries of 60 to 300 km.”
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