If you're struck by a heart attack, nothing means more to your survival than rescuer response time. With this flying ambulance drone in action, the odds of coming back from cardiac arrest could improve from 8 percent to 80.
Developed by Belgian engineering graduate Alec Momont studying at the TU Delft University, the drone can fly a resuscitating defibrillator at 60 MPH out to a range of 4.6 square miles. Rescuers can communicate to people at the scene of the incident through microphone, walking them through how to apply the drone's defibrillating pads and observing the scene through a camera.
"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. The ambulance drone can get a defibrillator to a patient within a 12 square kilometers (4.6 square miles) zone within a minute, [improving] the chance of survival from 8 percent to 80 percent," the 23-year-old developer told AFP.
The drone navigates via GPS dialed in to the position of a caller's cell phone. It's got a maximum payload of about nine pounds, but Momont hopes to increase that or make lightweight medical supplies to diversify the flying ambulance's capabilities.
The idea is to make the drone a "flying medical toolbox" with "an oxygen mask to a person trapped in a fire, or an insulin injection to a diabetes sufferer."
Right now the unit is expected to cost $15,000 a piece, and "legal issues regarding use" have yet to be worked out, but Momont is trying to get "an operational emergency drone network across the Netherlands" of the ground in five years.
Images: TU Delft University