The rise in unmanned vehicles has been a hot topic in recent years. Only recently for instance, the Paris metro announced an expansion of its driverless network, whilst of course the rise of driverless cars has been well documented.
One of the more controversial applications of driverless technology has been drones. They have seen an increased role in military conflicts, but have also received growing recognition in a civilian context. Earlier this year for instance, Jeff Bezos toyed with the idea of delivering packages to Amazon customers via a drone delivery system.
It’s in this vein that a new innovation has emerged from a team of Belgian researchers. They have developed a drone based system that they hope will significantly improve the odds of surviving a heart attack.
The researchers, from TU Delft University in Holland, have developed an ‘ambulance drone’ that can reach a patient in minutes, before delivering instructions to passers by on how to operate the equipment.
“Around 800,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest in the European Union every year and only 8.0 percent survive,” the developers say.
“The main reason for this is the relatively long response time of emergency services of around 10 minutes, while brain death and fatalities occur with four to six minutes,” he continued.
“The ambulance drone can get a defibrillator to a patient within a 12 square kilometre (4.6 square miles) zone within a minute, reducing the chance of survival from 8 percent to 80 percent.”
The service uses GPS to track the location of the mobile used to phone in the emergency call. When the drone arrives at the scene, a camera fitted to the device allows a remote paramedic to talk, watch and guide a passer by in using the equipment.
The early prototype of the device has already gained significant interest amongst Dutch emergency services, with heart charities also supportive of the concept.
The developer hopes that the device will eventually become a flying medical toolbox, capable of carrying all manner of things, dependent upon the situation. So it may carry insulin to a diabetes sufferer or an oxygen mask to someone trapped in a fire.
Suffice to say, the project is still very much in its infancy, and there will be some legal and practical issues to overcome, but it’s a really nice idea that could have some excellent applications.
Check out the video below to see the drone in action.