An Israeli startup hopes to one day be flying missions in Africa, delivering on-demand medical supplies to remote areas. And it has a unique drone to carry out that work.
One has to only look at Zipline to realize just how great the need is in some African nations for the timely delivery of blood, medication and other medical supplies. That company has proven it with regular flights in Rwanda and now Ghana. Zipline, as you may know, relies on a fixed-wing solution that requires a pneumatic launcher to get airborne and a capture device for coming back to earth. Now, an Israeli company hopes to do similar work in developing nations but with a different aircraft design. The Israeli drone is a Vertical Take-off and Landing design, or VTOL. Trust us, this drone is very different from most you’ve seen.
Why is that? It has folding wings.
The company’s name is Gadfin. That word means “wings” in Aramaic. And in simplest terms, this drone takes off and lands like a multi-rotor but flies like an airplane. We’ve all seen designs like that.
But Gadfin’s drone is different. Its wings fold back for the takeoff and landing portions of flight, and extend outwards for forward, fixed-wing flight. Here you see it in hovering mode, with the wings folded back. Four propellers deal with the vertical aspects of flight. You can see a single pusher prop at the tail. It’s used for forward flight.
A recent article in the Jewish News Syndicate takes a closer look at the company. The pandemic, it says, slowed down progress at a time when Gadfin had just started testing drone deliveries. But Israel has launched an official program called “Na-ama” that prioritizes hospital deliveries. Under that vision, most hospitals will be connected by UAS within two years. Gadfin has applied for a tender, hoping to service the corridors between four hospitals in northern Israel.
We hope that within two years, we can connect Israeli hospitals. This could speed up deliveries of sensitive medical supplies like bone marrow transplants. These are highly complex and expensive deliveries on land. Instead of having doctors or nurses accompany the delivery to make sure the taxi doesn’t stop in the sun, our aircraft whisks them to the lab or hospital in minutes.
Gadfin CEO Eyal Regev, quoted by Jewish News Syndicate
Gadfin has a video of its “Spirit One” in flight. Pretty cool concept:
The company’s vision is laid out in kind of a mission statement on its website.
Imagine medical facilities in every corner of the globe connected, all the time, with medical supply always there when you need it; at remote locations exactly like in city centers, bridging between islands, crossing countries, and mountains, re-defining the old ways of logistics, saving lives, on a daily basis. Imagine railways in the sky delivering daily, thousands of goods from peer to peer, day and night, rain or shine, safely, quietly and reliably like never seen before. We are here, now, equipped with the best technology, which is developed in-house by our unmanned systems experts, creating solid IP, and determined to really make it happen!
We like the look of this drone, including how its fuselage looks very much like a slippery airfoil. We’ll be keeping an eye on their progress, and wish Gadfin the best.