October 30th, 2014
Engineering Student Invents Flying Ambulance Drone to Deliver AED to SCA Patients
Drones have been used to kill people in war zones and to spy on people. Now a sharp young engineering graduate student in the Netherlands has come up with an innovative new use for drones that might one day shorten the time to defibrillation for people with sudden cardiac arrest.
Alec Momont, an engineering grad student at the Delft University of Technology, built a prototype of an ambulance drone containing a defibrillator, a camera, and a microphone and speakers. He says the drone can cut the average travel time from 10 minutes to 1 minute.
The drone can be controlled by a paramedic in response to an emergency call. Using GPS, the operator flies the drone to the scene at 60 mph. At the scene the operator, using the drone’s cameras and speakers, gives personalized instructions to people near the victim.
The Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reports that interest in the device has already been expressed by Dutch emergency services and the Dutch Heart Foundation. Momont said the device needs further technical development. Legal issues also need to be resolved. But he hopes the device, which could cost less than $20,000, might be available in five years. Momont envisions additional uses for his ambulance drones, including the delivery of oxygen masks to people caught in fires.
A YouTube video produced by TU Delft dramatically presents a fictional case of a daughter calling emergency services after her father has a cardiac arrest.
“Let’s use drones for a good purpose, let’s use drones to save lives,” Momont states in the video.