UAV Network for Surveillance and Delivery

Health System Strengthening for Routine Threat Surveillance and Commodity Delivery by UAV Networks

Organization: Vayu

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Problem: Poor ground transportation infrastructure impedes over 1 billion people worldwide from accessing consistent quality healthcare services. Health outcomes suffer without the essential commodities and supplies needed to provide health care services and appropriate disease surveillance systems to identify and respond to emerging threats. The reach and frequency of the surveillance network is severely limited when expeditions require a team of trained researchers carrying heavy equipment including refrigerators and generators for temperature-sensitive samples.

Solution: In partnership with Stony Brook University and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Vayu will develop, pilot and evaluate the potential to scale the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to strengthen national health systems’ cover-age, reach and responsiveness to address existing and future health threats. The pilot will focus on Ministry of Health man-dated institutions that provide health services nationwide, whose operations in remote areas are hindered by poor roads. The team will create an optimized, reliable, and cost-effective UAV-integrated system that can support the delivery of products to last mile facilities as well as pick up samples and other critical items from those facilities. The proposed work will be in Madagascar, and the results will provide essential information for integration of UAVs to healthcare networks in other countries similarly challenged by poor road infrastructure. Health system strengthening is critical for preparedness to combat the next emerging threat before it occurs.


Daniel Pepper – University of Chicago

Julie Bateman – University of Michigan

Daniel Agar – University of Waterloo (Ontario)

Primary motivation:

"To overcome transportation as a barrier to healthcare delivery and humanitarian response in remote areas. We’re motivated by the reality of over 1 billion people worldwide lacking access to consistent quality healthcare services because of poor or non-existent roads. Our team has developed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV or ‘drone’) with the unique ability to fly long distances autonomously, carry heavy loads, and land virtually anywhere. The ability to load cargo at both endpoints of a flight allows for delivery of commodity supply and specimen collection from difficult to reach areas. In the absence of all-weather roads, networks of UAVs provide a means to connect these last billion people to global health services and humanitarian supply chains."

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