A US-based drone startup has found a humanitarian market for its services: hospitals in remote areas of Rwanda. The startup, Zipline, has begun making deliveries of blood and other medical supplies via the air, a much faster method than navigating the hilly country's network of slow and windy roads, reports the BBC. Doctors phone in their requests to a distribution center, and a drone then takes off and drops its cargo attached to a small parachute. Eventually, the company hopes to provide similar services in rural areas of the US.
"People have this sense that the US leads the world in terms of technology and then Africa catches up, and I actually think that might be changing,” Keller Rinaudo, Zipline's CEO, tells the Washington Post. “It’s actually smaller countries like Rwanda that are willing to take risks and actually invest in something radically new.” Drones have great potential in other African countries, but many are skeptical that in conflict zones, people won't be able to separate lifesaving drones from military ones. For now, Rwanda says it has no plans to use the technology for military purposes.