June 1, 2019: The SA National Blood Service (SANBS) and Western Cape Blood Service (WCBS) has unveiled its delivery drone to transport blood to remote rural areas in South Africa. Aimed at saving lives, it demonstrated the technology at the North Eastern Radio Flyers in Sandton.

The blood service unveiled its Tron drone, which features a wing design suited for maximum efficiency, and allows for long travel with minimal power usage. It is capable of vertically taking off and landing and has a range of over 100 km. Tron drone can travel upto 180 km/hour, but can also travel as slowly as 60km/hour if necessary, said SANBS.

“We believe that this is an innovative step in the history of blood transfusion. SANBS is determined to improve rapid access to life-saving blood products in rural areas through the use of drone technology. Our concept is globally unique in that we will provide two-way logistics; patients can receive emergency O negative blood from one of our blood banks via drone. The same drone can then take that patient’s blood sample to the bank for comprehensive cross-matching and then safely and rapidly deliver compatible blood back to the patient,” said Dr Jonathan Louw, CEO of the SANBS.

“We celebrate a milestone. Our main aim as a blood service in the Western Cape is to save people’s lives by providing sufficient, safe blood. Drones will assist us to provide blood timeously to where it is needed,” said Dr Greg Bellairs, WCBS CEO/medical director.

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