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Combat disease - no I am not talking about air combat


Junior Member
I work in Liberia, Africa when I am not in the US. I am part of the team continuing to contain the Ebola disease and to enhance the healthcare network there. Stay with me here a moment before I get to how this all relates. In Liberia we have small clinics all over the country where the clinician draws blood or takes other samples. The challenge is to get those samples into one of the three labs in the country that can analyze them. The current method is to use the 'Riders for Health' group which uses a pony-express on dirt motorcycles to transport the samples (roads are either terrible or non-existent). It sometimes takes days and that can cost lives.

There's a company (www.flyzipline.com) making long distance drones to drop off blood supplies. It's pretty cool but does not go far enough however it did get me thinking about FliteTest...and my R/C background (my first R/C was a rudder-only pulse radio system)..

The BIG CHALLENGE - Combat Disease with ground to air pickups.

In my past, I used to fly a lot of R/C planes. One summer for kicks the club I was in started working out how to pull banners (now fairly common place). That got the first part of my idea. Could we use the same technique (poles in the air with a cord, the R/C flys through the area with a hook and snags the cord. The clinic locations don't have much clearance, maybe 100 ft by 100 ft max, so that's a constraint of the challenge. At the end of the cord strung between the polls is a package lying on the gorund (our samples weigh no more than 1lb, usually less), the plane swoops, snags the line and picks up the package.

OK - there are some challenges here. The package has to remain intact (think of an egg inside baggie inside a cardboard carton) and the package has to be landed back at the lab without any damage. It may be the plane has a bomb bay and the package gets reeled in... that's one way. The package could be a lifting type package that could towed behind like a simple glider and then released over a target and glide back... lots of options.

Last part of this challenge - all this should be either autonomous or at a minimum FPV. I think something like a VASI light system could work to help the FPV pilot on the correct glide path for the pickup.

Why this is important?

I figure if you guys can do this with R/C, prove that you can pick up this important package, and return it to 'base' it might be enough of a start to convince some of our funding agencies that it's worth experimenting further.

You can check us out, really www.acceliberia.org and http://www.umassmed.edu/ebola/ - the guy in the scary suit in the little video is one of my team members. How about some real aerial combat... fighting disease?

Super interesting - the Google delivery drone project design is relevant - a wing that transitions to hover and has a winch and cable for package delivery. But seems like you can do away with the complication of a winch if you can hover and land for cargo load. I've read of at least one other company in Africa pioneering medical delivery by drone - google 'droneport' .


Wake up! Time to fly!
Just use a phantom with a transmitter at each place you need to go. Set up a way point route using gps. When it lands and shuts down someone attaches the cargo swaps a fresh battery in and and sets way points back to where it came using their tx to start the process.

If you set a bind code you can have multiple controllers be able to take over when its in range with out having to go thru the bind. As it gets out of one controllers range into the closer stronger signal there shouldn't be any lost signal on the change over I wouldn't think.


4s mini mustang
VTOL is a good idea because airplanes are more efficient and faster than drones (maybe?)because they don’t use electricity to lift them, but you need the VTOL for pickup and drop off.


Maneuvering With Purpose
How far does it need to fly? I'm thinking fixed wing with normal loading. The James Bond pickup seems to dramatic and complicated. The plane would have to be pretty big and heavy to pull it off.