UAS Management – Case #3

  • UAS Management – Case #3

    Posted by Mike on February 21, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    Post your answers to the questions for Case #3 to this forum.  Be sure to post comments to a minimum of two other postings.

    DeletedUser replied 2 years, 10 months ago 4 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • DeletedUser

    May 21, 2021 at 10:43 am

    Case Study #3


    Blood delivery via unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the United States could present some great benefits and numerous opportunities. In rural areas where roads might not be the greatest, and hiring a helicopter would put the patient needing the blood in crippling debt for the rest of their life, a system of UAVs carrying blood could cut time and cost for a life-saving resource.

    The Zipline UAV demonstrated in Rwanda is also somewhat inexpensive to purchase and operate. In the Rwandan countryside, the Zipline team have found a niche market where their product really stands out when compared to the alternative of driving the blood on rough four wheel drive tracks. The Zipline system has already demonstrated its life-saving abilities in the real world.


    While a UAV could theoretically be made from the largest aircraft in the world, the vast majority of the time they are made with aircraft small enough for a single person to carry. This presents a weakness where UAVs might not have the desired payload capacity available, especially if the ground operations are meant to be lightweight and rapidly mobile. Blood has a narrow range of storage and transport conditions, and requires either insulation or refrigeration. Both of those systems can be bulky and can weigh down a UAV quickly.

    The requirements for ground operations are also a weakness for UAV blood delivery. The fixed-wing aircraft in Rwanda used as an example would not do very well delivering blood in a heavily treed area, as it needs a wide open field to execute a landing. Only in operations with a niche set of parameters would a blood delivery UAV be useful.


    Hospitals that are otherwise difficult to get to in a timely manner could also benefit from such a technology. For example, the OHSU campus in Portland, OR built an entire aerial tramway for the primary purpose of shortening the travel time for patients from the Waterfront district to the OHSU campus, and saving lives by doing so. Time is of the essence for certain blood deliveries, so a UAV carrying blood could slash delivery times because it would be able to simply fly over both city traffic and rough terrain.

    Blood delivery UAVs also present an opportunity to sway public opinion on UAVs in general. When people hear stories about UAVs doing humanitarian missions and saving lives, it changes the perception of the technology towards the positive end of the spectrum. If the average Joe only associates the word, “drone” with missile strikes and backyard spying, then regulations on the civil UAV industry will inevitably only become more restrictive.


    In the United States, the biggest threats to UAV blood delivery are automobiles and regulations. In most situations where blood is needed but not had onsite, a medical courier can deliver the needed blood in a standard road vehicle somewhat quickly over long distances using our extensive highway system. The niche market for a short-range blood delivery drone is far smaller in the United States than it is in Rwanda because of the existing road infrastructure.

    Another thread is regulation. Because the civil UAV industry is still in its infancy, the Federal Aviation Administration is being extremely cautious and learning lessons as challenges and problems come along. While the industry is moving towards drone deliveries for all sorts of items already, it would not take many dangerous incidents for the practice of delivering items to be halted until the technology improves enough to make it safer.

    • DeletedUser

      May 21, 2021 at 1:32 pm

      You definitely detailed it better than I and hit it on the head with Rawanda vs the U.S. Just in the regulation differences alone, (not to mention the difference in geographics and population abundance) I think Rawanda is a poor comparison for US related blood delivery UAVs. However, there will be experience that comes from that that will possibly help (eventually). However, this will create its own set of hurdles as regulations in Africa just are not what they are here state side by any way shape or form. This could be like learning to play golf the incorrect way for 10 years and then having a pro try to teach you how to correct your swing. Once a habit is learned, it can be hard to break it, though not impossible. Im not saying the folks in Rawanda are careless by any means but dealing with regulations that you have not been exposed to will create its own hurdles. Having a proper team put together will vastly improve these hang ups or misunderstandings from happening I believe.

    • DeletedUser

      June 2, 2021 at 12:15 pm

      I liked your format of analysis and applied it to mine. Good job 😉

      I’ve never thought public opinion on UAS side before. That may currently be a little bit skeptical as you say. And I second you saying, it may help better public acceptance of UAS. May need additional signs and lights on vehicle to help it distinguished.

      Size and ground transportability of UAS is a good point too. I’d like to place a requirement like, whatever fits in a van for all ground equipment and UAS.

  • DeletedUser

    May 21, 2021 at 1:22 pm

    Using a SWOT analysis for blood delivery via UAV in the US would help to determine the perspectives needed for a successful business operation and mission planning. This would be helpful to conduct beforehand as there are many catalysts that would be involved in this operation. It is extremely important to involve all members of the team as one may have insight or information that another member may not have.

    The first thing to examine would be the strengths and weaknesses of the company. These can also be known as the internal factors that will affect the day-to-day operations and can be looked at in positive or negative aspects. These strengths and weaknesses should be documented and monitored daily as the possibility to “switch sides” will be present. This means that not all strengths will stay strengths and not all weaknesses will remain weaknesses.

    When looking at strengths, a company’s opportunities, prospects, assets, resources, employees, managers, past experiences and activities need to be carefully examined considering the extreme volatile nature of the cargo. If a team was put together that did not understand much about blood to begin with, there may not be much success in the operations. Things like forward operating bases would need to be planned out in accordance with the planned distance to the delivery zone and the time that it would take to get there. These delivery zones are most likely near or at hospitals being that this is a delivery program for the U.S so airspace restrictions, TFRs, BVLOS, live air traffic and many, many people not involved with the operation will be present. Is only one hospital or clinic being flown to? That doesn’t sound very profitable, so extreme care would need to be taken in even deciding where to put your forward operating base so as to reach as many clients as possible. The U.S. is not the plains of Africa whom blood delivery is being utilized for via UAV instead of hours and hours of off the beaten path driving. There are an extreme number of hurdles involved with this project stateside. These could be looked at as weaknesses and regulatory staunching of the project would be counted as such.

    By creating a SWOT analysis in the beginning, these factors would be identified amongst the team and a plan could be developed of how to address these issues and the steps that were needed for it to be successful. It is important to have a designated leader for this type of analysis to keep things moving. There are so many regulatory concerns at this point and it would be extremely easy to get hung up and cease forward progress. It can not be left up to only the leader though. This will take a massive team effort to accomplish.

    Once the strengths and weaknesses are brought to the table and identified, forward progress could be made to then list out the opportunities and threats and compared to those strengths and weaknesses that have been identified. By creating a list or a grid as this analysis is started, these items can be tracked properly and monitored because what is a weakness today may not be tomorrow and vice versa.

    Also, by doing this analysis beforehand, the company will not (hopefully) hit any snags when potential clients or regulatory agencies begin asking “those” questions because the answers have already been found, listed and discussed.

    • DeletedUser

      June 2, 2021 at 12:08 pm

      I agree with you Wyatt. I believe a detailed SWOT analysis is a must at the beginning. Involving all team members is a way to go. Perhaps it is better to start with a demonstrator program rather than full steam start.

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