Drones were successfully employed by Thailand’s Public Health Ministry to fly a 12-kilometer trek over the sea to deliver medicine to a hospital on Koh Puyu in Satun province in Thailand.
Dr. Sophon Mekthon, assistant to the public health minister, and Dr. Nutthapong Wongwiwat, deputy director-general of the Department of Medical Services, held a news conference on Friday to discuss the findings of a drone study for drug delivery in Satun.
“The trial is part of digitising medical services by using technology to provide more accessible and affordable services to people living in remote areas,” Dr Sophon explained.
The research committee of the ministry had decided to perform a trial drone run in the southern province of Satun.
“This is the first time in Thailand that a drone has flown across the sea to deliver medicine,” Dr Sophon added.
“The drone took tetanus vaccines from Satun Hospital onshore to Puyu tambon health promotion hospital on Puyu island and delivered bags of blood back to Satun Hospital,” he told The Bangkok Post.
The journey to and from Satun Hospital was 12 kilometres long. Dr. Sophon said that the idea was aided by a team of Singapore developers, Skyports, and Gp Capt Anukoon Onchan-om, a National Defence College student.
Swoop Aero of Skyports invented the drone. The Swoop Kookaburra Mark 3 weighs 17 kilogrammes. It can transport packages weighing up to 3kg at a top speed of 68 km per hour.
“The drone can fly continuously for 68 minutes and in rain at speeds of less than 10 millimetres per hour,” Dr. Sophon stated.
He also announced that the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) had approved the medical drone service.
The drone is controlled by satellite connection and can fly throughout the country.
“The drone trial proved to be a success,” said Dr. Sophon. “It will give people living in remote areas access to medicines and medical services,” he continued.
“In the event of any emergencies, such as natural disasters, medical drones can deliver medicines, vaccines, and serums to patients,” he said. “It will be used as a model for other operations in the country soon,” Dr. Sophon added.
Use of Drones in Thailand
Drones are being used for various purposes in Thailand, ranging from recreational and commercial activities to more specialized applications. Here are some common uses of drones in Thailand:
1. Aerial Photography and Videography: Drones equipped with high-resolution cameras are used extensively for capturing stunning aerial images and videos. They are popular among photographers, filmmakers, and content creators who want to capture unique perspectives of Thailand’s landscapes, cities, and cultural landmarks.
2. Tourism and Promotion: Tourism boards and travel agencies use drones to create promotional videos showcasing Thailand’s natural beauty, historical sites, and tourist attractions. These videos help attract visitors by providing captivating aerial views and immersive experiences.
3. Agriculture and Farming: Drones are increasingly used in Thailand’s agricultural sector to monitor crops, assess crop health, and gather data for precision farming. They can quickly identify problem areas, monitor irrigation, and even spray pesticides or fertilizers in a targeted manner, reducing the need for manual labor.
4. Environmental Monitoring: Drones equipped with specialized sensors are used for environmental monitoring in Thailand. They can collect data on air quality, water pollution, deforestation, and wildlife populations, aiding conservation efforts and providing valuable insights for environmental research.
5. Disaster Management: Drones play a crucial role in disaster management and emergency response. They can be used to assess damage after natural disasters like floods or earthquakes, search for missing persons, and deliver essential supplies to affected areas in a timely manner, especially in hard-to-reach locations.
6. Infrastructure Inspection: Drones are employed for inspecting infrastructure such as bridges, power lines, and pipelines. They can quickly and safely survey structures, identify potential issues, and assess maintenance requirements, reducing the need for manual inspections and improving efficiency.
7. Surveying and Mapping: Drones equipped with mapping software and sensors enable efficient land surveying and mapping. They can rapidly collect detailed topographic data, generate accurate maps, and aid in urban planning, construction projects, and land management.
8. Wildlife Conservation: Drones are utilized in Thailand to monitor and protect wildlife. They can survey remote areas, monitor endangered species, track animal populations, and detect illegal activities such as poaching or logging, thereby supporting conservation efforts.
It is important to note that drone usage in Thailand is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT). Certain restrictions and guidelines are in place to ensure safe and responsible drone operations, including obtaining permits, adhering to flight restrictions, and maintaining privacy and security.