DHL and partners have carried out 2,200 kilometres of drone flights to deliver medicine to an island in Lake Victoria.
The Parcelcopter 4.0 completed the 60 kilometre flight from the mainland in an average of 40 minutes, with 2,000 flight minutes recorded during the pilot project.
The three experts in their respective fields were DHL, Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and German drone manufacturer Wingcopter.
DHL says the drones open up new opportunities to address logistics challenges in the public health sector in many parts of Africa, especially supplying hospitals and pharmacies.
Medical care for the 400,000 resident of the Ukerewe island district of Lake Victoria is limited due to the poor infrastructure and difficult terrain.
Six hours are needed to cover the overland route of 240 kilometres, making it nearly impossible to provide emergency medication or to quickly refill cool chain commodities that are out of stock.
DHL Parcelcopter 4.0 takes off and lands vertically, and after delivering its cargo it can easily be loaded with blood and laboratory samples to take back to the mainland.
The Parcelcopter could improve logistics in the public health sector by potentially preventing worldwide crises, such as viral diseases including Ebola.