Often, the focus of drone technology is on what profit can be made from technological advancements. Yet, it my be the necessity of drones for critical emergency operations that brings wider spread adoption. Inside of the United States, drones have seen use as emergency coordination and response tools. In developing nations, they may even mean the difference between life and death. Rapid medical response and ample supplies are often taken for granted, but natural disasters have a way of proving the true delicate nature of infrastructure.
To that end, drones can serve as a critical component of emergency medical response. It is often unfeasible to maintain a full array of scarce medical supplies at remote locations, but prompt delivery is still necessary. While manned aircraft were once the vehicle of choice for even the smallest medicine delivery, drones can now take over this duty. Robust medium distance drones can easily deliver scarce or perishable medications and tools to medical professionals in the field. The necessity of these deliveries is of particular note in areas that completely lack traditional over-land routes. This can be a factor of impassable terrain or simply complete governmental breakdown.
Drones can bypass this terrain and deliver supplies without concern for infrastructure or land features. Although their payload is relatively small, compared with traditional manned aircraft, they can still carry most necessary medical payloads. This is particularly true of blood donation. Remote facilities may not have the ability to accept donated blood safely, or even have the necessary community to provide the right blood type. Even in urban areas, drones can deliver donated blood between hospitals to ensure a proper supply.
The only stumbling block lay in Part 107 of the FAA regulations for drone operations in the United States. Included in all drone courses, the outline of Part 107 prevents drones from flying above 400 feet, out of sight of the pilot or over people not involved in the operation. Although drone training can make these operations perfectly safe, a waiver is still required if an operator intends to work outside of these parameters. As one could expect, gaining a waiver for critical medical operations is expected to be easier than routine flights.
Drone courses are an important component of ensuring safe operation, and drone training is one way that the FAA ensures a pilot can safely operate their UAS under a waiver. These medical waivers are an important gateway to increased public acceptance of drone flight. The more comfortable the average person is with drones operating in the air space above them, the more likely the government will be to reduce restrictions on flight zones.