This Dutch student is building an ambulance drone


Drones have a bad reputation, an almost irredeemable bad reputation even when proposed to be put to good use. The bad boy reputation is not uncalled for. Drones, though not on its own doing, have been responsible for some gruesome attacks. One student in Netherlands at the Delft University of Technology is attempting to put drones to good use. Alec Momont needed to complete a final project at university and he set out to find a positive use for drones.

Momont was also driven by something greater than fulfilling course requirements. His parents had recently lost a neighbour to cardiac arrest after an ambulance failed to arrive on time. Momont, 23, began to wonder about the possibility of ambulance drones that carry emergency supplies. The technology student collaborated with Living Tomorrow, an organisation that is known for taking on innovation projects.

The project is still at early stage of development and is yet to pass many competency test. It has not been used on actual humans and its entire costs is not yet determined. There is a however a video of it demonstrating how it will work.

The drone has a defibrillator built in. It is capable of travelling at 62 mph. The battery lasts for only 10 minutes. Momont however suggests that if the drones are deployed and are responding to an emergency within a 12 square kilometers, they can respond to emergencies in less than a minute. He says that the drones will have to be 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.

Once the drone lands on its required location, 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.

Momont’s drone currently weighs 8. 8 pounds and includes a separate battery for the defibrillators which is capable of delivering up to 50 shocks.

In the Netherlands, the normal speed of an ambulance is ten minutes and Momont’s drones would provide significant improvement and likely save lives. He hopes to eventually double the drone’s top speed to make response times even faster.

In African cities like Lagos, Johannesburg, Nairobi etc drones of this use could be useful. Even in townships where the ambulance is often if not always late.

Momont thinks using drones to deliver defibrillators could be just a scratch on the surface of the potential of the technology to improve emergency responses. He envisions that putting a heat sensor on a drone to locate skiers buried in avalanches could be the next use he builds into the drone.

Momont is currently focused on sourcing funding to make his dream a reality. He estimates that it will cost a $19,000 price tag for each drone, and noted that additional technology such as a Sonar system, still needs factored in.



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