China’s first medical drone delivers essential supplies to cliff-top village

The otherwise arduous journey – via ladders attached to the cliff face – now takes just 10 minutes

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 December, 2017, 2:57pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 December, 2017, 6:48pm

China’s first medical drone dropped off much-needed supplies to a remote cliff-top village on Thursday, Chinese media reported.

The drone was photographed hovering over the village of Atule’er in Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture, Sichuan province, about 1,400 metres above sea level, China News Service reported.

The village in southwestern China made headlines in 2016 when it was revealed that children had to climb 17 vine ladders attached to the cliff face to get to school and back. The government later replaced the ladders with steel ones.

The drone, deployed in partnership between the local government and e-commerce firm, brought villagers anti-inflammatory and cold medicines on its first run.

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Before, the journey to deliver supplies would take between six and nine hours, but thanks to the drone, it’s been shortened to a speedy 10 minutes.

“Villagers had to climb down the ladders to buy medicines and essentials. It was really inconvenient, because it takes several hours to complete a round trip,” villager Muse Wuha was quoted as saying. “But the drone flies down in minutes. I feel we are embracing a new kind of life.”

The device is expected to make more deliveries soon but there were no details on how often.

Medical drones are also used in Rwanda to supply medicines and equipment to areas that are inaccessible because of poor infrastructure. And Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is testing its hybrid drones by delivering food and medicines to rural Australia.