European UAV research and innovation organization AiRMOUR has launched a series of tests using drones – including an EHang air taxi – to substantiate the potential advantages of the craft in responding to life-threatening medical emergencies.
AiRMOUR has an established record within European efforts to prepare governments and societies for the arrival of UAV services, including introduction of passenger-carrying urban air mobility craft. The research organization’s specialty is deployment of new aerial technologies in reacting to urgent situations. As part of that, AiRMOUR has experimented with smaller drones to rush supplies to responders in medical emergencies, and is now taking that exploration a step further by testing an EHang EH216 air taxi to transport EMS personnel.
The most recent phase in the project began last week in Stavanger, Norway, where a smaller EHang Falcon L400 was used in a simulated live emergency flying a defibrillator over a lake to the location of a staged heart attack event.
Those were similar to earlier trials in Sweden that confirmed the faster transport speed of defibrillators to victims compared to usual road vehicles. Last year, meanwhile, pioneering medical drone services company Everdrone flew an AED to the site of an actual heart attack emergency taking place – an intervention hailed as the first time a UAV was used to save a real cardiac victim’s life.
The next phase in the current AiRMOUR operations will begin in November in Finland, when – weather permitting – supplies including EpiPens, adrenaline, and specialized medical equipment will be flown by drones in response to simulated emergencies. Sometime next spring, flights between hospitals will be staged in Kassel, Germany.
The institute says that tests using EH216 air taxis to transport personnel will likely strap test dummies into the craft rather than boarding human passengers.
AiRMOUR says success of the evolving trials will confirm both the diverse advantages that drones of various sizes can offer officials responding to medical emergencies, and their efficiency and safety over road options.
“The aim of the validations is to progress from less demanding flights and circumstances to the most demanding ones, to increase the overall understanding on what is possible in the European regulatory framework for urban air mobility, with the current operational capabilities and user needs,” says Petri Mononen, AiRMOUR’s project coordinator. “The expectation is that we will gain a wealth of new state-of-the-art knowledge in terms of the social aspects – public acceptance, business viability – and also the technological aspects, such as air risks, ground risks, patient risks, airspace limitations and landing infrastructure.”
The tests are part of AiRMOUR’s three-year project focusing on drones in response to medical emergencies, which is supported by 13 partners from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.