Department of Health (DoH) – Abu Dhabi, the regulator of the healthcare sector in the emirate has announced that Abu Dhabi Emirate is adopting advanced drones to distribute and transfer medical supplies within the healthcare sector.
The project, a first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa, will create a state-of-the-art delivery system and network using drones at 40 stations throughout the year 2022. The delivery and transfer system will have around the clock service and form part of the emergency response network available at healthcare facilities in Abu Dhabi. It aligns with the year of preparation for the “UAE Projects of the 50”, the UAE's Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Strategy, and broader strategies to position Abu Dhabi as a global hub for innovation.
The project which is a collaboration between the DoH, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), SkyGo and Matternet will leverage existing advanced infrastructure to transform healthcare logistics. Drones in the supply chain will be used to deliver medical supplies, medicine and blood units, vaccines and samples between laboratories, pharmacies, blood banks across healthcare facilities around the city in a safe manner. This will help in emergencies and contribute to reducing occupancy rates in healthcare facilities as well as enhancing the quality of patient outcomes.
The project aims to ensure the overall health and safety of the community, improving the sector’s efficiency while also increasing Abu Dhabi’s emergency preparedness. Additionally, the use of drones will yield environmental benefits with a reduction in CO2 emissions and reduced road traffic congestion. Moreover, the project supports the emirate’s ambition to build a knowledge-based economy by offering several technical career opportunities for UAE national talent within this emerging field.
H.E. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, Chairman of Department of Health - Abu Dhabi, said: ‘’Under the wise leadership and its directives, we look forward to working with our partners to make Abu Dhabi the first city in the Middle East and North Africa, to adopt and use of this technology. We will continue to deploy advanced technologies that will improve the healthcare sector for the benefit of citizens and residents. Looking ahead, we will continue working towards establishing the emirate as a global healthcare hub while at the same time developing a healthcare system that is fit for the future.’’
The adoption and use of the advanced technologies has also enabled Abu Dhabi to respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic. Abu Dhabi has been recognised as a leading city in global rankings for its response to the pandemic.
Al Hamed added: “With advanced infrastructure, Abu Dhabi is capable of serving as a test bed for promising innovations with practical use-cases, especially those that seek to preserve the health and safety of our population. We look forward to bringing this project to life and seeing it become one of Abu Dhabi’s pioneering initiatives.’’
H.E. Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director General of the General Civil Aviation Authority said “Today, we are celebrating together with our stakeholders an important milestone for Drone delivery, it is a testimony moving from a concept to a reality. The advancement of Drone applications and technology is fast moving, and we are pragmatically preparing the infrastructure to support drones smooth and safe deployments and integrations within smart city’s ecosystem contributing to the UAE society wellbeing.”
SkyGo and Matternet have completed phase one of testing and are now working on phase two, which will be finalised by the end of this year and will address all aviation safety requirement and risk assessments. It also recently hosted a demonstration of the technology in the presence of H.E. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, H.E. Dr. Jamal Mohammed Al Kaabi Undersecretary of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, and H.E. Sultan Al Dhaheri, Executive Board Member of SkyGo and a number of participant representatives. The demonstration included transporting and delivering medical samples from Zayed Sports City to one of the Emirate laboratories. The samples were transported with end to end chain of custody (GDPS compliant), while the drone flew autonomously at an altitude of 300 feet above ground level.
H.E. Sultan Al Dhaheri, Executive Board Member, SkyGo, said: “I am delighted to announce the launch of the first drone delivery operation from Abu Dhabi. SkyGo is an Abu Dhabi-based disruptive technology company providing logistics and supply chain solutions by drones.”
SkyGo is the first company to have a license in the UAE for BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line Of Sight) commercial drone delivery operations. SkyGo and Matternet bring a world-leading drone technology and aviation expertise that aim to offer sourcing and urban logistics solutions by providing faster, more effective and safer sustainable alternatives.