Medicine Delivery by Drone

In mid August 2019, a drone delivered medicine to an island off Vancouver Island in Canada. This was billed as a historic flight, and it was.

The drone – apparently one of InDro Robotics’ M210C drones – flew an EpiPen and naloxone from London Drugs in Duncan, Vancouver Island to a patient on Salt Spring Island. The flight was about six kilometres long and involved a flight over the Pacific Ocean.

This was the first delivery of pharmaceuticals by a beyond-line-of-sight drone flight in Canada. The flight path was programmed into the drone and it flew mostly autonomously. It was monitored by a pilot as a precaution but the drone “flew itself”.

The flight was conducted by InDro Robotics, a company that specializes in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and especially beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations. It was done under the supervision of Transport Canada.

Delivery by drone is a hot topic these days. Amazon has been testing this, and there are a lot of obvious applications for using drones to deliver things.

The challenge is how to do this safely. How do you manage airspace with multiple drones operating in it, unaware of each others’ presence until the last minute? How do you deal with flyaways or other loss-of-control situations? What about bad actors flying their own drones attempting to take down your drones? There are a lot of issues that need to be worked out.

That being said, I applaud this test and I look forward to more tests of BVLOS drone operation and eventual modification of regulations to permit its general use.