Table 1

Characteristics and description of drone projects in Madagascar, Malawi and Senegal

Project nameDrOTS: Drones Observed Therapy System in Remote Madagascar
  1. Specimen referral and health supply chain optimisation using drones

  2. Medical commodity delivery for preventable maternal deaths using drones

Drones for health supply payload delivery in Foundiougne district, Fatick region, Senegal
Project onset and endNov 2017—Dec 2018
  1. Mar 2016—ongoing

  2. Dec 2017—ongoing

Dec 2017—ongoing
First flightMay 2018
  1. Mar 2016

  2. Apr 2018

Jan 2018 (demonstration flights for regulatory authority)
Implementer(s)Stony Brook University, Pasteur Institute of Madagascar
  1. Unicef

  2. VillageReach

Ministry of Health, PATH
Partner(s)National Tuberculosis Control Programme,
Ministry of Public Health
  1. Ministry of Health, Department of Civil Aviation, VillageReach

  2. Ministry of Health, Malawi Blood Transfusion Services, Malawi Pharmacy, Medicines Poisons Board

Medical Region of Fatick, Medical District of Foundiougne, Pharmacie Nationale de Provissionnement, Pharmacie Regionale de Provissionnement, Fatick Region
Sponsor(s)/funder(s)TB REACH of the Stop TB Partnership
  1. Unicef (feasibility); Unicef and USAID (implementation)

  2. Grand Challenges Canada and Silicon Valley Community Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Drone type(s)Hybrid (fixed wing and quadcopter)
  1. Quadcopter (feasibility); hybrid (implementation)

  2. Hybrid (fixed wing and quadcopter)

Hybrid (fixed wing and quadcopter)
Manufacturer(s)Vayu (test flight); Vertical Technology Delta Quad (implementation)
  1. Matternet (feasibility); Wingcopter (implementation)

  2. Vayu (test flight); NextWing (implementation)

Vayu (test flight); to be confirmed for implementation
Drone operational service provider(s)None
  1. Matternet (feasibility); Wingcopter (implementation)

  2. NextWing (implementation)

General Global Services (provisional)
No of drones2
  1.  To be determined

  2.  1 in use, 2 planned

To be determined
Maximum flight range60 km
  1. 100 km

  2. 80 km

60 km
Maximum payload1.5 kg
  1.  6 kg depending on distance

  2.  2.2 kg (test flight), 1 kg (implementation)

2 kg
Propulsion systemElectric
  1.  Electric

  2.  Electric

Flight controlAutonomous but monitored1.+2. Autonomous but monitoredAutonomous but monitored
PurposeSputum and medication transport for diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis
  1. Collection of medical samples (TB and HIV diagnosis, viral load) and delivery of medication

  2. Blood and injectable oxytocin transport for maternal health emergencies

Delivery of urgent essential drugs and collection of medical samples
  1. Peripheral health centre

  2. Villages

  1. +2.

    1. District hospitals

    2. Peripheral health centres

    3. Blood testing sites

  1. District health centre (drone base)

  2. 3–4 health posts in the district (islands)

  3. Regional hospital

  4. Regional pharmacy

System approachBi-directional transport/delivery between (A) and (B) with landing in both1.+2. Bi-directional transport/delivery with landing in (A), (B) and (C)Bi-directional transport/delivery between (A) and destinations (B), (C) and (D) with landing in all sites
Geographical scale, including health infrastructureOne district (1 health centre, 1 health post), including villages
  1. 2 districts, including islands

  2. 2 districts (one central blood bank, 1 urban health centre, 1 rural district hospital)

One district, including islands (4 health posts)
Human resourcesDrone technicians, health personnel at (A), community health worker in (B)1.+2. Drone technicians, health personnel, study team (core and partner organisations), ambulance crew (2. only) and police officers on standbyDrone technician and health personnel at (A), health personnel at (B), (C) and (D)
Total flights (until Dec 2018)Six flights (Vayu), 37 flights (Vertical Technologies)
  1. 93 flights

  2. One test flight

One test flight
Total deliveries made (until Dec 2018)Six round flights (between 10 and 42 km) using dummy payloads
  1. None

  2. Not applicable

Not applicable
Status of national regulationsDeveloped in 2017, pending final approvalAviation circular developed in 2017, pending final approvalRegulations published26