KNAU News Talk – Arizona Public Radio | By Ryan Heinsius
Published January 31, 2022 at 2:33 PM MST
The Navajo Nation has begun testing a specialized drone to deliver medical supplies and other essential items. Officials hope the technology could assist tribal members in remote or inaccessible parts of the reservation.
On a recent Saturday, President Jonathan Nez and other Navajo leaders gathered in Window Rock for the first flight of the Healing Eagle Feather drone. They simulated four deliveries and officials anticipate using the technology to distribute medical supplies like insulin along with meals, animal medicine, emergency communication devices and anti-venom.
The drone could also assist communities that are cut off because of washed out or impassable roads after monsoon rain or heavy snowfall.
The solar-powered drone has a maximum capacity of 14 pounds with a 20-mile flight radius. Navajo officials say they could eventually deliver ballots to increase voter turnout on the reservation and use the drone for geological surveying and to improve rural addressing.
Similar drones are already in use in Southern California to inspect rural utility lines and assess damage.