Jedsy: Advancing healthcare through efficient and faster delivery of medical supplies using UAVs

It is indisputable that technology is playing a pivotal role in progressing Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being in different countries and globally.

Delivery Glider AG with the brand name Jedsy, a Swiss-based company specializing in developing and providing drone services, is one of the companies that is currently focusing on improving the health system by delivering medical supplies such as blood bags, vaccines, and others using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) also called drones.

How it started

The enthusiasm to develop and implement a delivery system that would revolutionize the landscape of healthcare stems back to 2015 when Herbert Weirather, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Jedsy was pursuing his Aerospace studies at the Technical University of Munich in Germany with the fascination of flying inspired by the former aerobatic pilot, Hannes Arch. Shortly, his enthusiasm for aerobatics and drones motivated him to establish the Drone Champions League (DCL) in 2016. Through this endeavor, he met Mirko, a multiple aerobatic helicopter world champion. 

Figure 1Co-founders of Jedsy: Herbert (left) and Mirko (right)

The realization was furthered by the emergence of Covid-19 where fast and sustainable delivery of medical supplies became a decider between life and death. Therefore, after the first functional prototypes, the company was founded in early 2021 in Switzerland. Immediately, an in-house team of highly-motivated and brilliant hardware and software specialists with a wide range of skill sets was assembled from across the globe ever since and has been growing over the years due to the expansion of operations. Fundamentally, the team is responsible for designing and developing everything required for a drone to fully function. 

Shortly, the company embarked on expanding its horizons as such, a full factory was set up in Malawi where the company is also actively operating.

The ultimate goal.

In essence, the innovative company aims to develop high-end technology for healthcare, emergency responder, and urgent payload clients. The hardware is created to withstand almost all kinds of weather and harsh conditions as such, the gliders are suitable for operation almost anywhere in the world. Besides, the Jedsy team is ready to customize gliders to the environment and weather where the mission will be carried.

The uniqueness of the technology

The Jedsy technology is exceptional in the development of the Jedsy Glider: a vertical and landing delivery drone whose fixed-wing conception provides it a maximum 120 km flight range, and up to 75 minutes of battery life at top altitudes of 2,428 meters. Furthermore, the crafts are equipped with state-of-art Artificial Intelligence (AI) and gear such as cameras and sensors that make them smarter and more autonomous to enable them to perform complex tasks and make decisions on their own in case of an emergency.

In terms of delivery systems, the company currently uses two mechanisms: the “Mailbox” which is exclusive as it was invented by Jedsy and it can be installed almost anywhere such as on a balcony or window or at the back of a car. The advantage of this system is that it provides a sturdy takeoff and landing solution in areas where ground options are limited or inconvenient, but also aids in fast and easy loading or reception of payloads. Besides, the mailbox serves as a charging system for the drones. Interestingly, drones are also able to deliver packages by landing on the ground in areas or situations where the mailbox cannot be installed due to the unavailability of proper structures or as a result of unforeseen circumstances beyond control at that particular time, the mailbox is not functional. Lastly, the company plans to adopt the parachute drop delivery system where basically, a package is attached to a deployable parachute or glider and once the package arrives at its destination, it is released from mid-air to safely lower it to the ground.

The journey so far

The company kick-started its delivery mission operations upon receiving certification to fly and meeting the standards of aviation bodies and signing deals in both Switzerland and Malawi.

Notably, in early 2023 Jedsy signed a two-year pilot deal to deliver medical supplies for The Dr. Risch Group, one of the leading service providers in laboratory medicine in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. In total, there is a network of 22 medical analysis labs in Switzerland and Liechtenstein however, for starters, Jedsy has been making 20 delivery flights between two Risch facilities, carrying blood and tissue samples among others. The drone’s straight path – which avoids flying over houses or traffic – permits deliveries in just five minutes, or around half of what the fastest road scenario in traffic-free conditions can.

Furthermore, in late 2022, the company caught the eye of the Ministry of Information in Malawi which resulted in signing a memorandum of understanding and now, it has been given the green light to embark on delivering medical supplies in three districts: Mzimba, Nkhatabay, and Likoma. In March 2023, Jedsy undertook a comprehensive pre-assessment exercise in several health centers.

One of the health facilities that caught the attention of most and needs immediate attention is Bulala which serves a population of approximately 40, 000 people with about 500 patients visiting the facility per day. This is a cause for concern because the facility is not suitable to carter for such a staggering figure of patients on several fronts; it does not have enough infrastructure, only has 20 people as staff and mostly, it does not have enough drugs. One of the chief causal factors of the latter is poor roads which makes it hard for ambulances to go to the area as such, the hospital receives a single consignment of drugs per month and at times nothing at all. Consequently, patients are advised to fetch medication from pharmacies which are also very few in the area and it is expensive to procure.

Figure 4: Condition of one of the roads to Bulala Health Centre

By road (distance of approximately 42 km), it takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes from Mzimba District Hospital (which will be the center of operations for Jedsy) to reach Bulala Health Centre. However, considering drones fly in a straight path or have their flight paths and do not use roads, the distance will be significantly reduced to 29km and it will only take about 20 minutes to complete a single delivery. In essence, Jedsy will contribute to the fast delivery of medical supplies, improved accessibility in terms of logistics, and better patient outcomes.