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The Roles of Flying Labs in Response to COVID-19

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March 24th, 2020

Peru Cargo Project 1

Flying Labs in 25+ countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America are increasingly supporting a wide range of public health efforts. This explains why HealthRobotics is one of the most active programs at WeRobotics. Flying Labs are thus well positioned to support local and national health systems in response to COVID-19. Flying Labs have been involved in public health projects since 2016. Peru Flying Labs, for example, has delivered medicines and blood samples in the Amazon Rainforest with BD; Dominican Republic Flying Labs delivered essential medicines to remote health facilities with Pfizer; Nepal Flying Labs collected TB samples from remote clinics in Pyuthan with BNMT; Papua New Guinea Flying Labs ran cargo drone training & demos with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and Cameroon Flying Labs will be collecting patient samples for Polio testing with the CDC and World Health Organization. Also, we've worked on cargo drone projects with partners in Brazil to reduce Zika, in Fiji to reduce Dengue and in Tanzania to reduce Malaria.

Together with Flying Labs, we have the first-hand, practical experience, and strong technical expertise in HealthRobotics. This explains how we're able to offer this cargo drone technology to Flying Labs and their partners. This also explains why we developed this professional online course on the use of cargo drones for medical delivery. Also, we are actively involved in developing ethical standards and codes of conduct, like this one on cargo drones. What's more, Flying Labs are also well positioned to offer other types of HealthRobotics solutions. Panama Flying Labs has been prototyping an autonomous cargo boat for medical deliveries, while Cameroon Flying Labs is prototyping terrestrial robotics solutions for similar use-cases. Flying Labs are also engaged in humanitarian aid, sustainable development, nature conservation, environmental protection, and other sectors.

What is more important than the technology, however, is the fact that Flying Labs represent a diverse network driven by more than 100 local experts with in-depth local knowledge and a keen understanding of local contexts. They know full well that problems are never just technical problems, which means that solutions cannot only be technical solutions—they must be social, local, and diverse. Flying Labs are ready to take meaningful leadership roles in response to COVID-19. WeRobotics is prepared to support them in their efforts. Now is the time to remind everyone of the critical importance of inclusion, equal opportunity, diversity, ethics, and standards. It is on this basis that Flying Labs will continue to respond to the global pandemic across 25+ countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Our role at WeRobotics is to continue supporting locally-owned and locally-led efforts.

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