Ambulance drones could soon save lives

June 25, 2015

See the original story by the Washington Post

Before graduating from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, Alec Momont needed to complete a final project. Motivated by negative headlines about drones, he set out to find a positive use for the unmanned aerial vehicles.

Momont’s parents had recently lost a neighbor to cardiac arrest after an ambulance wasn’t able to arrive in time. The 23-year-old wondered, what if drones could be used to carry emergency supplies? So Momont reached out to Living Tomorrow — an organization known for undertaking innovation projects — and began collaborating on an “ambulance drone.”

Momont developed a drone with a defibrillator built in. The drone is capable of traveling at 62 mph, but the battery lasts for only 10 minutes. He says a network of 3,000 drones could canvas the Netherlands, each drone responding to 12 square kilometers within a minute. He envisions the drones being stationed on telephone poles. The nearest drone could be summoned following a 911 call, and flown — either autonomously or controlled by a human — to the site.

(Have an inspiring story of someone trying to make a positive difference in humanity?  Submit your story to us today!)

Once the drone lands, a panel is opened up and the defibrillator paddles are removed. The drone includes a camera, so that an emergency technician watching from afar can offer personalized advice.

His drone weighs 8.8 pounds and includes a separate battery for the defibrillator, which is capable of delivering up to 50 shocks.

An ambulance in the Netherlands typically takes almost 10 minutes to arrive, so Momont’s theoretical army of drones would provide a significant improvement and likely save lives. He hopes to eventually double the drone’s top speed to make response times even faster.