In December 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos caused quite a stir with the announcement of his company’s plans to offer 30-minute product deliveries via unmanned aerial vehicles (more commonly referred to as “drones”).
Drones have been deployed by the U.S. military since the 1970s, for purposes ranging from providing bird’s eye surveillance of troop movements and weapons facilities to launching attacks on terrorist organizations.
However, the same technology can also be used to help save lives. Thankfully, a growing number of commercial, non-profit, and government scientists and laboratories are working towards that goal.
To address the reality that the victim’s chance of survival decreases dramatically with each passing minute, this “ambulance drone” is guided by GPS to a mobile phone location within 4.6 square miles in under a minute. Once there, the drone uses live streaming audio and video to allow emergency personnel to provide instructions on how to use the defibrillator correctly, and transmit the patient’s vital signs.
Widespread adoption of this kind of technology would be welcome news here in the U.S., where heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women (about one in four), claiming an estimated 600,000 lives each year.
Example of an ambulance drone delivering a defibrillator to a patient in need of urgent care. (Image Credit: Alec Momont and Delft University of Technology)
Video of the ambulance drone prototype is shown below.
Within the health and safety space, there are a number of powerful applications for drones that show great promise:
- Dropping off emergency equipment or medication. Poison antidotes, EpiPens, and oxygen masks are just a few of the lifesaving possibilities.
- Conducting search and rescue operations. Lost or injured people could be located at sea, in the mountains, or in a forbidding desert or jungle.
- Responding to natural disasters. Fire, flood, hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, or severe drought can delay or prevent on-site intervention by humanitarian or medical personnel. Drones could provide help when and where none would have been available.
- Delivering aid to refugees and victims of war or military conflict. Man made disasters can be just as deadly as natural ones, and drones could deliver aid across hostile borders and amidst chaos that block timely assistance by humans.
- Reaching rural or remote patients. Even in safe, peaceful situations, patients can be in locations that lack the infrastructure for effective emergency or ongoing care. Drones could be deployed to provide telemedicine, vaccines, prescription drugs, or medical supplies for home healthcare.
- Collection of blood and tissue samples. As well as delivering goods and services, drones could provide quicker return transport to fully equipped labs.
Before we get too excited, there are still a number of obstacles standing in the way of more widespread use of drones. Technical challenges include reducing the size and weight of the drones and their payloads, improving the ability of drones to detect and avoid objects in their flight path, and preventing hackers from misrouting or disabling the technology.
Legal and regulatory challenges include creating a framework to integrate drones into an already crowded airspace, training and licensing operators, determining liability, and respecting national sovereignty. Beyond the moral and ethical challenges of using any form of weaponized drones, all forms of the technology also have implications for personal privacy.
Amidst that morass, it’s encouraging to consider the upside of the inevitable development and use of drones in civilian environments. Happily, that upside goes well beyond Amazon’s promise to promptly deliver consumer goods to your doorstep. The healthcare applications listed above will soon be joined by many others that allow us to extend humanitarian, medical, and lifesaving assistance anywhere it’s needed.
This post first appeared on Forbes.
I’m back… after a long break from Blogging… Why was I gone so long I hear you asking? Well I will outline just that has changed and what caused my lack of posting here on ThatBlogger…
As some of you may know I was working for a local marketing agency close to where I live. After working there for about 4 years I decided it was time to take the plunge and setup my own marketing company.
This wouldn’t be my first company, as I had already been running a first aid training company on the side to my normal job, so had already got the basics of business.
So in September 2014 I handed in my notice, got an office at a new enterprise park near where I live and started on my own. Running the two companies became very time-consuming working on client projects and sorting all the tax and accounts meant that I lost the free time I had to blog. 10 months later I am still going having secured enough work to keep me going. You can check out my company website here. Let me know in the comments what you think!
Having just told you I have started my own company, I also now have another job!
For a long time now I have been trying to work my way up and gain experience with the view to join the Ambulance Service here in the UK. After years of doing just that, I found myself applying for jobs at my local NHS Trust not really thinking much about it other than filling in the application form as I had been doing for months before. However one day after coming back into the office after a meeting, to my surprise I had been asked to attend an assessment day for a chance to be selected to work in my dream job. I went to the assessment day thinking it was worth a go and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work but the closer it got to that day the more I wanted it.
About a week after passing all the assessment tests and interview I was waiting to see if I had been selected for a space of 200 from a list of 3000 people. Then that call came! I had got that job!
A few months on with the paperwork coming along I am not just waiting for my course to start in July. Wait… What about my companies…? Well I am still going to run those companies. Just on more of a part-time basis.
New Blog Theme
Now I am back blogging I thought it was about time I updated the ThatBlogger theme. I took a few hours our of working on client projects to quickly code up a new theme. Which is the theme you are seeing now! Let me know in the comments that you think about it?
Yep… It’s that time of year when people start to go away on their summer holidays! That is exactly what me and my girlfriend are doing. On Tuesday next week (10 June) we are off to Mexico for 2 weeks so the blogging well slow down slightly while I am away but I will make sure I upload some photo blogs so you guys can see what I am up too!
So What Now?…
I am going to try to blog now as much as I can and keep you updated with the goings on in my life, code, reviews and general day-to-day stuff.
If anyone has anything they would like to send me for review or anything please let me know via the contact page.