Lancet article concludes motorcycles cheaper than drones for sample transport

Academics undertook a comparative economic study of the costs and cost-effectiveness of uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) versus motorcycles in Liberia, for transportation of laboratory samples.

The article published in highly respected medical journal The Lancet, is titled Uncrewed aircraft systems versus motorcycles to deliver laboratory samples in west Africa: a comparative economic study.

As the title suggests their aim was to find out whether motorcycles or drones were more cost effective for sample transport and they chose Liberia, one of the countries where we operate as the location for their simulation.


Photo by asoggetti on Unsplash

The writers worked with Riders for Health Liberia (as well as Jolie Dennis, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Liberia Office) to get the motorcycle operational data including prices, distances, and road conditions that they used for their study.

The article concluded that at this time, and based on the simulation results that motorcycles are more cost effective for sample transport.

Our simulations suggest that short-range UAS are less cost-effective than motorbikes for transportation of laboratory samples under most scenarios in Liberia; however, there is potential scope for longer-range UAS, especially if prices decrease and operational lifespans increase.

Quote from the Lancet article

Riders are always looking into new technologies that help us deliver care economically and reliably to communities. We have been approached my agencies to talk about the possibilities of using uncrewed aircraft systems and are investigating how they could be part of of our transport network.

Riders believe in using the appropriate tool for the job. And part of choosing the right vehicle is always finding the most cost effective. This is important to our partners and because an affordable system is more sustainable. We see four and two wheel vehicles, mobile phones and drones can all be part of an integrated logistics for health system.

Uncrewed aircraft systems will be one of the options as we work with our partners to strengthen healthcare systems across Africa but because of the limitations of every form of technology we know it will not be the only one.

Drones and mobile phones can do much to improve mobility but they do not mitigate the need for vehicles. Sick and venerable people need human contact and care from well trained health professionals.

Andrea Coleman, co-founder Riders for Health

Read the full article


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