UAE: Drone to deliver medicines in Dubai; 2 years of trials will soon become a reality

Technology allows hospital to deliver medications to patients, who no longer wants to wait in long queues as pandemic has changed consumer behaviour


Nasreen Abdulla

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

Published: Sun 11 Jun 2023, 5:21 PM

Last updated: Mon 12 Jun 2023, 3:16 PM

UAE residents could soon start getting their medicines through drone delivery, according to a healthcare leader in the country. Dr Fatih Mehmet Gul, CEO of Fakeeh University Hospital (FUH), said that with the importance Dubai places on innovation, it would only be a matter of time before drone delivery of medicines becomes commonplace.

Last month, FUH trailed drone delivery from the healthcare facility in Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) to deliver medicines to a patient's house at Cedre Villas within a 10km radius. The hospital is to continue tests on drone deliveries, but Dr Fatih thinks it could be only a matter of months before this delivery method is available to the wider UAE population.

"For technology adoption, you need the right provider, right government and right consumers," he said. "Dubai has all three. So I think, based on the demand and response we have seen, residents could expect to get their medicines by drones very, very soon."

Trial and error

According to Dr Fatih, the project resulted from two years of trials that saw the cooperation of several entities, including the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority, Dubai Health Authority and the Museum of Future, among others.

"We have been investing in technology since we began," said Dr Fatih. "So when we were approached by authorities looking for a partner hospital, we immediately got on board."

FUH's first task was starting to create policy and procedure for drone delivery. "We also had to map delivery points, especially those in apartments and skyscrapers," said Dr Fatih. "Medication is a very specific product and has to be delivered to the right person. So we have to be ready to manage the circumstances. We are working hard with authorities to deliver what is needed at the right time to the right person."

He also detailed how the hospital has been testing the delivery under various circumstances. "We had to do several tests, and we are still continuing to test," he said. "We are testing it under different weather conditions with different types of medication and different types of storage methods."

Need of the hour

According to Dr Fatih, drone deliveries are the need of the hour. "Since the Covid-19 pandemic, everything has changed," he said. "Supermarkets have gone online. Cashier points have changed. My patient is the same person that is ordering delivery from the supermarket. So they have huge expectations from their hospital as well."

Dr Fatih said that patients are not willing to wait for the medicines in a long queue. "They want medication delivered," he said. "When we started robot delivery of medication, we didn't expect a huge demand but we were shocked at how people have adopted it and already started using it. We have to try more to understand and offer what our patients need."

The hospital has seen immense interest in drone deliveries ever since the news of it went out. "The young people love it," said Dr Fatih. "Especially the fact that the medication is packed in the hospital and then delivered without anyone else handling it to the customer. No contact delivery has become much more popular since the pandemic."

Suggestions are already pouring into the hospital on what they could include in the drone deliveries. "We have heard from a lot of new mothers who want items added to the scope of drone delivery," said Dr Fatih. "They have suggested consumer goods and more. We are very excited to see what the future holds."


More news from UAE