Medical drone project to bring low cost health care to regions

Cosmos Magazine


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By Cosmos

New South Wales researchers have been commissioned to design a medical drone.

The specialised drone is to be equipped with a “medical capsule” to deliver cargo to remote regions. It will be able to transport pathology specimens, blood products, anti-venom, medications, medical supplies and other equipment.

The drone will complement local primary health networks, telehealth and pathology services, and pharmaceutical delivery.

ASAC Consultancy, which has funded the project, says research and development is for a hydrogen fuelled vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) although final configuration remains confidential.

Read more: Medical drones for paramedics?

The medical drone is being designed to enable early detection, prevention, and treatment of health conditions common in rural and remote regions of Australia, such as sepsis.

The project is led by Associate Professor Dries Verstraete from the University of Sydney’s Net Zero Initiative and School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering. The team will further develop its triple hybrid fuel-cell-based system to extend the lifetime of the fuel cell under Australia’s challenging operating conditions.

Medical drone italy
The Mavic 2 drone equipped with a thermal sensor, used by municipal police drone pilots for checking people’s temperature In Italy. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

“Our mission is to create a hydrogen-fuelled carbon-neutral VTOL UAV that can carry medical cargo, while providing unparalleled range,” Verstraete says.

“Huge areas of Australia do not have easy access to medical care. Current technology doesn’t allow drones to cover the required distances while being sustainable, hydrogen-fuelled and emissions-free.”

Medical drone germany
Medical drones arent new. This one was made for medical supply deliveries in Germany during the COVID19 outbreak. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP) (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Founding Director of ASAC Consultancy, Anna Klis, started the Wildu Aero Project and says it will train community members to engage through drone piloting, maintenance, and monitoring.

“By investing in local talent and fostering skill development, we aim to cultivate a sustainable and inclusive environment that drives positive change within local communities,” Klis says.

Antwerp gettuy
A drone in Belgium carries human tissue over an urban area between two hospital sites, a first in Europe that could save valuable time during surgery. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP) (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)

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