Drones to deliver home testing kits

has made it possible for people to get an accurate diagnosis without coming into contact with others, but getting tests to those who need them can be a challenge, something drone deliveries can overcome .

COVID-19 diagnostic tests using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) are highly accurate but it takes hours to process and sometimes it can take days for patients to get results back. In contrast, faster antigen-based tests can give results within 15 to 30 minutes.


Home antigen testing kits allow people who suspect they may have COVID-19 to test themselves at home, which could limit contact with other patients at the testing site as well as staff. medical tests performed. Achieving results faster while minimizing contact with others is one way to further limit the spread of disease.

Drones to provide COVID-19 testing

In a new paper published on Journal of Intelligent Systems & RobotsMurray Ct, an associate professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, and colleagues from the University of Houston have developed a new technique to schedule the delivery of diagnostic tests for COVID-19 using a truck. to dispatch drones and drones to deliver tests. The researchers tested different scenarios to better understand the capabilities of their approach.

Ct and colleagues’ approach considers their problem as separate truck and drone components. They first optimized truck schedules to minimize travel distances and then focused on minimizing delivery times by drone.

  • The first stage of their proposed approach is to find a possible set of truck and drone routes.
  • The second stage uses a heuristic algorithm to try different combinations of routes to find improvements to their original solution.

Using a real-world scenario, they were able to figure out a good schedule of activities in about an hour of computation.

The researchers then developed an expression of the method’s effectiveness based on the total time it took to complete a delivery, the number of people involved in the process, and the rate at which the virus was transmitted relative to each other. face-to-face testing. They found that the proposed truck and drone delivery method could reduce the transmission factor during the test by 7.5. For example, if the transmission rate is 100 per day, the proposed study has the potential to reduce this rate to 13.3 per day.

Their study demonstrated the effectiveness of the proposed delivery scheduling method, which could also be used in other applications such as testing for other infectious diseases such as influenza.

The researchers also note that their model can be used for both rural areas, where patients are spread over long distances, and urban areas, where many patients live in one area.

Another future direction the researchers note is to investigate how driving restrictions such as speed limits, traffic lights, and traffic congestion affect truck scheduling methods. and unmanned aircraft.

Source: Eurekalert

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