Shenzhen flies drone to deliver human heart for transplant within 20 minutes

Shenzhen is leading the nation in a variety of innovative drone applications, starting with food delivery and steadily pushing deeper into fields like medical supply transportation.

Shenzhen, a southern Chinese boomtown, yesterday grabbed headlines as the city’s medical emergency unit used a drone to carry a human heart for transplant, Chinese media reported yesterday.

Footage shot by China Central Television, the state broadcaster, shows that the drone arrived in Shenzhen 20 minutes after it took off with the donor’s heart from Zhongshan, also a city in Guangdong province.

Shenzhen and Zhongshan are 120km apart and by land it would have taken five times as much time for the heart to reach the recipient, according to the TV broadcast.

The news story fast became a trending topic on the microblogging site Weibo, with Chinese netizens enthusing about the drone’s versatility.

“Shenzhen has shown, with this example, that it is truly evolving into a ‘city on the wings’,” read one comment on the business news portal National Business Daily.

Image credit: Unsplash

A city on the wings

Shenzhen is leading the nation in a variety of innovative drone applications, starting with food delivery and steadily pushing deeper into fields like medical supply transportation.

For instance, drones are occasionally tasked with the transportation of plasma, lab test samples and organs for transplant, which all place an emphasis on speed.

In the realm of food and cargo delivery, the role played by Shenzhen-based UAV companies such as Meituan UAS (美团无人机), SF UAS (顺丰无人机) and Phoenix Wings (丰翼无人机) has already been well documented.

According to Yan Yan, a senior manager overseeing public affairs for Meituan’s food takeout unit, in the first 11 months of this year, the firm had opened 22 flight paths in eight business districts in Shenzhen and Shanghai.

Image credit: Unsplash

Its drones flew along these paths and delivered to office buildings in 19 communities, five scenic spots and one hospital.

“To date, we have fulfilled more than 210,000 real orders,” said Yan.

According to the city government, as of November this year, Shenzhen added 75 flight paths and 69 vertiports for drones.

Freight drones completed a total of 541,000 flights during the same period, covering logistics, city governance, emergency rescue, and first aid, among other scenarios, government data shows.

Image credit: Unsplash

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Trip.com Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at nitao0927@gmail.com.

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