UAE national Mishaal Almarzouqi is a drone enthusiast. His day job sees him work for Abu Dhabi’s energy company TAQA, as an associate of asset management, but in his free time he is an avid drone builder.
However, unlike the many drone hobbyists that have emerged in recent years, Almarzouqi builds drones designed for use in the healthcare sector. He and another team member in his UAE Drones for Good Award entry wanted to create a drone that is not simply about delivering a product.
“We thought everyone would want to do that, so we decided to have drones for the healthcare system because it’s a very important sector in the UAE, especially as it is moving towards becoming a medical tourism destination,” he said.
The result was a drone that could transfer medicine to the elderly and to special needs patients, deliver blood to hospitals, as well as transport medical results and medical kits. It is delivery but in ‘an innovative way’, Almarzouqi said.
“Nobody could think a drone could deliver blood or medicine due to security and other reasons,” he added.
The first challenge the team faced while building the drone was finding a way to keep medication and blood stored at appropriate temperatures during the journey, especially given the UAE’s desert climate.
“How could we save the medicines and deliver them safely to the patients? The challenge we faced with blood is how to prevent it from clotting,” said Almarzouqi.
The duo approached Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and discussed the idea of using a medical refrigerator. However, weight and size were an issue. Determined to succeed, the team found a smaller refrigerator and consulted the health authority on the best liquid solution that can be used to prevent blood clots. The third challenge was securing the necessary funding to build the drone.
“I was worried it would cost us 50,000 dirhams and that if I paid that from my pocket and didn’t win the competition it would be useless. Luckily, the Dubai Health Authority sponsored our idea,” he said. While their idea didn’t win the competition, it came third and the feedback they received was very positive, said Almarzouqi, who is still in the hunt for an investor to support the idea.
With DHA announcing its intention to deliver services using drones, Almarzouqi is optimistic their use in the UAE will increase over time and bring certain advantages. “I believe that having drones in government services will reduce time and effort and increase quality, therefore making people happier,” he said.