CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Rwanda is the first country to give airspace to drones for the express purpose of flying blood to hospitals that request delivery. 

Here, a Zipline drone rests on the launchpad, ready to slingshot into the air so it can deliver blood to one of Rwanda's hospitals. 

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
1
of 24

The Silicon Valley company Zipline uses 6-foot-long drones to fly blood to health clinics and hospitals across Rwanda. 

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
2
of 24

This is the drone staging area inside the main hangar at the Zipline compound, about an hour's drive outside Kigali, Rwanda.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
3
of 24

Lab technicians prepare blood platelets for flight via drone to rural hospitals.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
4
of 24

Units of blood are ready to ship to hospitals in the lab at Zipline's Rwanda headquarters.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
5
of 24

A flight technician performs a preflight check prior to launching a drone.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
6
of 24

The drones fly predetermined flight paths that have been loaded onto SD cards.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
7
of 24

The drones are nearly human-size. 

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
8
of 24

Weighing about 30 pounds each and carrying roughly 3 pounds of blood, the drones head to nine hospitals throughout the western side of the country after first receiving orders via WhatsApp texts.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
9
of 24

After receiving a WhatsApp message request for blood, the drone is put on the launcher.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
10
of 24

A drone is launched from the slingshot-like launchpad.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
11
of 24

A tablet in Zipline's hangar tracks the drone's flight path in real time.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
12
of 24

Inside Zipline's control tower, the operator maintains contact with air traffic control in Kigali.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
13
of 24

Nine drones sit ready for deployment in the main hangar at the Zipline compound in Rwanda.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
14
of 24

Phone, laptop and iPad help keep tabs on everything Zipline needs to know about its drones. 

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
15
of 24

A cooler full of blood arrives at the Zipline compound, where it will be prepared for delivery to hospitals at a moment's request.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
16
of 24

A lab tech prepares blood platelets for a drone flight.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
17
of 24

This is one of the Zipline delivery drones. Each is about 6 feet long and weighs 30 pounds.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
18
of 24

Kids line up along the fence to watch the drones land on their return to base.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
19
of 24

Last month, Zipline announced an agreement with Tanzania, where it will make up to 2,000 deliveries a day next year, to more than 1,000 health facilities across the country.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
20
of 24

A bag of B+ platelet concentrate in the lab.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
21
of 24

Young kids press their noses against a chain-link fence to watch the drones take off and land.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
22
of 24

As it returns for landing, a hook on the drone's underside snags a rope strung between two poles, stopping instantly.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
23
of 24

Once the rope snags a drone, it falls onto a giant inflatable cushion. From there, the drone is taken to the hangar to be checked and prepped for its next flight.

Published:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNETRead the article
24
of 24
Up Next

How birding looks with today's technology