MANILA, Philippines -- Rock band U2's frontman Bono, real name Paul Hewson, led Tuesday in the announcement of a drone-based blood supply delivery service in the Philippines.
The announcement came a day ahead of U2’s concert that is expected to draw tens of thousands to the Philippine Arena north of the capital.
The initiative for on-demand and emergency blood deliveries by drone is a partnership between humanitarian organization Philippine Red Cross and California-based automated logistics company Zipline, of which Bono is a board member.
The announcement was made at the Philippine Red Cross Headquarters, with its chairman, Sen. Dick Gordon, US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, and Zipline cofounder and CEO Keller Rinaudo.
The service is expected to launch summer of 2020, with its first of three planned distribution centers in the Visayas.
The blood-by-drone plan is projected to help bridge the health helpline or delivery gap in the Philippines where millions live in more than 4,000 geographically disadvantaged areas, making it difficult for them to get help. The situation worsens during natural disasters like typhoons, earthquakes, landslides, and tropical storms when roads are washed out or impassable.
Health workers may place orders via text messages and may receive deliveries in 30 minutes on average. The drones both take off from land and at Zipline’s distribution centers, requiring no additional infrastructure at the clinics they serve.
Bono is in the country for the first time for the Philippine leg of the Asian tour of U2's 1987 album "The Joshua Tree" that had taken the band to New Zealand, Australia, Japan and -- also on their maiden visits -- to Singapore and South Korea. The last stop in the tour is India.
Bono is the lead vocalist of the band, which also features Adam Clayton on bass, Larry Mullen Jr. on drums, and The Edge on lead guitar and keyboards.