In the world of drone delivery, a single flight may have just created a higher chance of survival for patients going forward. A drone in Baltimore made headlines this week as it delivered an actual kidney transplant from a travel distance of 5 kilometers. They used a modified DJI M600 (currently priced at around $400-4500) to test transport possibilities. The ‘modified’ part of the M600 is the added storage compartment, where they will place the organ for transfer. The 5 kilometers is an important measurement to test the drone’s capabilities, as it is the most common distance between health care centers worldwide. In theory, a drone can travel in-between hospitals until it reaches the destination.
Organ Transport Drones
But that is not all that’s considered. Travel distance is not the only basis on whether this can be a viably consistent transport method. Other factors, and far more important ones I may add, is still up for debate. The package (in this case, vital medical organs) needs to arrive on its destination on time. They also require avoiding any bumps along the way. Having a consistent temperature inside the storage throughout the flight is a must as well.
Temperature stability, package durability, and flight navigation can easily dictate whether the transplant organ would still be usable when it arrives.
For the temperature aspect, the researchers in Maryland used a refrigerated storage, equipped with thermal sensors both inside and out. This means that the source and destination both have data on the current temperature of the package. Any change in temperature can ruin an organ, and make it unfit for transfer. This can lead to longer waiting periods for those patients needing transplants. In most cases, delays often cause worsening of conditions, and even death in some cases.
The M600 can fly (without load and against minimal wind resistance) at around 29 kilometers per hour. For battery and flight, it is capable of a singular flight time of 35 minutes with NO payload, while about half of that for up to 6 kilograms of cargo.
Good news, the test proved to be quite a success, with the kidney arriving on time, no damage or bumps, and the temperature remained consistent throughout.