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Oct 7, 2020 | InterDrone Podcast

Episode 57: Drone Deliveries, DJI’s ‘Local Mode’, a Drone Industry Perspective with Tom Walker

This week on the InterDrone Podcast we sat down with Tom Walker, CEO of DroneUp. DroneUp provides end to end services for autonomous missions.

We spoke about a drone which carried a human kidney over Las Vegas desert in what could be the future of organ transportation, Walmart using drones to deliver Covid-19 tests, and DJI’s new ‘Local Mode’, which stops the transfer of data, in an attempt to ease privacy concerns.




Tom Walker:

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1. Drone carries human kidney over Las Vegas desert in what could be the future of organ transportation

Researchers at MissionGO and the Nevada Donor Network, an organ procurement organization, announced last week two successful test flights carrying a human organ and tissue via drones in Las Vegas. The first flight on Sept. 17 transported research corneas from one hospital to another about 2½ miles away.

The second flight delivered research kidneys 10 miles, from an airport to a location outside a small town in the Las Vegas desert. It marked the longest organ delivery flight in drone history, surpassing the distance of a historic April 2019 flight, when staff now with the MissionGO team transported a kidney from the Living Legacy Foundation in west Baltimore to the University of Maryland Medical Center downtown.

Organs are usually transported via commercial aircraft, but the coronavirus pandemic has drastically reduced the number of flights available. A kidney can survive outside the body for 36 to 48 hours after it has been recovered, according to the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. A study published in August 2019 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found the United States discards about 3,500 kidneys a year. Meanwhile, nearly 100,000 Americans are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, and about 12 people die each day, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Although the Las Vegas kidney was for research purposes only, scientists who took biopsies before and after the flight concluded there were no changes to the tissue architecture and cell viability.

2. Walmart is using drones to deliver Covid-19 tests Walmart launched a pilot drone delivery program

Tuesday that will drop off Covid-19 tests to homes within a one-mile radius of the North Las Vegas store. Customers will receive a text from DroneUp when the Quest Diagnostics (DGX) test is on its way. And depending on where there are cars and trees, the kits will land on people’s driveways, front sidewalks or backyard. Delivery, which can take as little as five minutes, will be free. The samples can then be sent via FedEx to a Quest lab, which will send out results digitally. Test results typically arrive in two days.

3. What is DJI Local Data Mode?

Here’s how it keeps drone flights secure Local Data Mode essentially works as a kill switch, blocking the app in use from sending data back and forth over the internet. This includes data being sent to DJI or third-party servers. The rest of the device and apps still remain connected to the internet. When using DJI’s drone apps, data is often sent between the app and DJI or third-party service providers’ servers. This allows the app to check for software updates, firmware updates, and collect relevant location data, such as maps and geofencing restrictions. By turning Local Data Mode on you would lose all of the above functions but gain more control over your privacy. To prove to the world that Local Data Mode does exactly what it says, DJI got an independent auditor to come in and tear it down. FTI Consulting, the company behind the audit found that DJI isn’t doing anything dodgy behind the scenes.