How A Drone Might Save Your Life

from the swords-to-ploughshares dept

There is a natural tendency to accentuate the negative when it comes to drones -- concentrating on how these "spies the sky" represent a threat to privacy and civil liberties. But as Techdirt has reported before, there are other applications that many might find not just acceptable but welcome. And that's not surprising: like the Internet, drones are just a neutral tool, and as such can be deployed for both good and bad purposes.

Here, for example, is a fascinating idea: using drones to get medical equipment to people faster than ambulances (found via Chris Anderson):

You create an app that anyone trained in first aid signs up to, creating a mobile community. You then station defibrillator-equipped drones on top of tall buildings across the city, linked by sensors. When someone needs help, they, or someone nearby, sends a request. The nearest first-aider accepts the task, and rushes to the site, and the unmanned vehicle sweeps from the sky, delivering the kit where it's needed.
This could have a big impact on the numbers of deaths from heart attacks. According to the same article in Co.Exist quoted above, 76,000 of the 250,000 deaths caused by cardiac arrest outside US hospitals could have been prevented, had the right equipment arrived soon enough. Now, it may not always be enough to use a drone to deliver a defibrillator to heart attack victims, but it seems likely that many tens of thousands of lives could, in theory, be saved in this way.

And of course the idea extends to many other life-threatening situations -- delivering blood or medicines to places that are otherwise hard to reach in time to save the patient. It's a useful reminder that drones aren't necessarily evil, it's how we use them that counts.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    ECA (profile), Oct 31st, 2012 @ 12:36am

    IT USED TO BE..

    That it was Courteous NOT to sue a person that tried to help.
    If you dont have a License and ambulance, you better not touch anyone.
    Odds are that IF' a doctor in a car was passing in front of an Auto accident, he would keep driving, because of a chance to be taken to court.

    REALITY CHECK 2:
    jobs enough for 100 million people..

    Reality check 3:
    An education system so confused and unbalanced, its having a hard time even teaching the Stupid.

     

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      Fickelbra (profile), Oct 31st, 2012 @ 6:03am

      Re: IT USED TO BE..

      I feel like you're the guy who bursts into the room smelling of bourbon and yelling about events only you witnessed.

       

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      identicon
      btr1701, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 10:52am

      Re: IT USED TO BE..

      > An education system so confused and
      > unbalanced, its having a hard time
      > even teaching the Stupid.

      Aren't stupid people by definition the ones who are the hardest to teach?

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Jake, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 12:52am

    Yeah... no. "Trained in first aid" does not equal "trained to operate medical equipment that can kill if improperly used".

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 12:59am

      Re:

      Isn't that a T&C thing though?
      "I agree that I've had sufficient training to use..."

      In principle it's an amazing idea but there are a few issues that will need to be thought out.

       

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 31st, 2012 @ 1:27am

      Re:

      I think your confusing the auto type with the paddles in a hospital drama type.

      The units are dumbed down and talk you through proper placement of the pads, tell you to stop touching them, give ample warning and then shock via pads it told you where to put.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 2:42am

        Re: Re:

        Yup. The device have vocal step-by-step instruction on how you should use it, and come with graphic manual on where to stick the pads.

        I've seen people using it in shopping arcade once.

         

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        ltlw0lf (profile), Oct 31st, 2012 @ 11:51am

        Re: Re:

        The units are dumbed down and talk you through proper placement of the pads, tell you to stop touching them, give ample warning and then shock via pads it told you where to put.

        We have them (called AED or Automated External Defibrillators) and are properly trained on how to use them, but they are so dumbed down I am not sure why we were trained to use them. The systems can recognize when the pads are properly placed, and will not even trigger if they aren't in place (which sometimes is aggravating when you don't get the pads in the proper place, even with the "test" versions we use for training.) But the system is nice enough to tell you that the pads aren't in the right place and will tell you again where to put them. And if it senses that you are still touching the victim, it tells you a bunch of times to clear away from them. And really, if you aren't forming a connection between your heart and the pads, you aren't going to suffer a huge jolt that will stop your heart, but you will prevent the device from working properly.

        These devices are taught in basic CPR classes. I've even seen the professionals using them...technology moves forward and I think the hospital defibrillators aren't the ones you used to see on TV anymore.

         

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 7:00am

      Re:

      If the patient has no heartbeat then the only change the equipment can make is to resuscitate them. It can hardly kill them when they are already technically dead.The person administering the aid or close bystanders are only at risk if the keep hold of the pads or patient, and almost everybody is aware of the dangers of defibrillators.

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 9:38pm

        Re: Re:

        yes, but if that patient is able to be revived by some means, and that is not done correctly, he is still dead, when he could of been alive. or made to come back alive.

        if there was someone who knew what to do to save him.. /her

         

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    maclypse (profile), Oct 31st, 2012 @ 1:13am

    Plenty of application

    There could be several uses for drones that are peaceful and useful. It's already been suggested that high-altitude drones could be used as a cheap alternative to satellites for weather forecasting, telecommunications, etc. The added mobility could lead to interesting applications, such as airborne mobile cell-towers for large public events.

    Imagine a hurricane hitting the coast (not too hard to imagine right now, right?) Imagine drones flying into the disaster area immediately after to quickly replace destroyed cell-towers and get communications back up, to estimate damages, to find clear routes that can be used by emergency services, etcetera.

    Of course, it does say something about our society that we primarily built the drones as a military application. It would be nice to see some good come out of it.

     

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      anonymous, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 1:27am

      Re: Plenty of application

      Most military technologies find civilian counterparts. We seem to discover technologies quicker on how to kill someone or patch them up where they can go back to kill someone than we are at bettering peoples lives first.

      I can see where drones can help. During the days after Katrina hit New Orleans, no one was hearing anything out of the area. Cell phones didn't work, no power, no landlines were working, radio and tv stations were down, and ham radio stations were down without power.

      It was something like 2 or 3 days before flights over the city began to see what had happened. During this time, people were stranded on the interstate because no one was being allowed back into the state. No motels or hotels had vacancy for a 100 miles or more.

      A drone could have been flown in the next morning at daylight to look at the damage. People were stuck on the rooftops of their homes due to flooding. They had to chop a hole in the roof to get up there or drown. Yeah, it was that bad.

       

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        maclypse (profile), Oct 31st, 2012 @ 2:16am

        Re: Re: Plenty of application

        Precisely. How much human suffering and death that could have been avoided if there had been aerial photography and communications at an earlier stage?

        Hell, in such a situation you could even use drones to locate pockets of survivors and "bomb" them with disposable cell phones.

         

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        maclypse (profile), Oct 31st, 2012 @ 2:24am

        Re: Re: Plenty of application

        http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0712/79095.html

        Leave it to AT&T and Sprint to try to shut the idea of emergency communications down.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 6:24am

        Re: Re: Plenty of application

        Don't you have an air force, and if so why didn't they do reconnaissance flight as soon as the wind died down a bit? They seem to be able to get pictures of bomb damage very quickly when the wanr to boast about their impressive technology.

         

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 1:21am

    Standard first aid, as practiced by First Responders are for the most part covered by the Good Samaritan law. If you provide aid to someone and do the best to your ability you are blameless for stopping to help that person in need.

    Mostly using things like defibrillators, since most of them are now software controlled, you need a certificate showing you have received the instruction on how to operate it. A medical license is not needed to operate a defibrillator or to give oxygen to a patient.

    Of course state laws vary. Some do not have Good Samaritan laws, or so I was told during the First Responder courses I received.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 31st, 2012 @ 1:55am

    Pretty much anything that has been invented is a neutral tool that can be used for good and evil. It's just a pity that human beings are so corruptible because these great inventions were always destined to be used for evil.

    Due to this corruptibility, it was inevitable that drones would be used for spying and launching attacks on disobedient nations.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 4:27am

    How will it deliver aid?

    Great idea until it needs to deliver its payload. I doubt they'll allow it to land within a crowd. Maybe drop it from a safe height or a controlled crash. Just have to make sure it won't create more casualties.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 4:35am

      Re: How will it deliver aid?

      Maybe you just hold your hands up, and it'll place the defibrillator/medicine/whatever in them?

       

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      The Infamous Joe (profile), Oct 31st, 2012 @ 4:38am

      Re: How will it deliver aid?

      "Drone" doesn't have to mean "jet". It can also mean "helicopter". (Or, more likely, quad-copter.)

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 5:54am

        Re: Re: How will it deliver aid?

        I never said it has to be a jet, take a vtol, qaud-rotor or even straight-up prop-job. Either way it gets there it has to maneauver around or above a developing crowd. I just see it as half of a great idea, the other part needs to be developed is to safely provide the aid.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 6:31am

      Re: How will it deliver aid?

      An airborne drone is faster and actually safer than a ground bound one.

      The person with the phone app could place their phone in an area where they want the drone to land, have the drone easily detect if it's a safe landing spot (looking to see it's a relatively flat area with a safety margin surrounding the phone), land, drop payload, and take off.

       

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    Lisa Westveld (profile), Oct 31st, 2012 @ 4:31am

    Drones could also be used for medical purposes on the battlefield. Provide some basic medical knowledge to 20% of the battlefield soldiers and then they can call in a medicbot with proper medical equipment for specific wounds. Since the Meditbot would have plenty of testing in the civilian world, it would also be very helpful to save the lives of soldiers shot or otherwise harmed in the line of duty.
    But then again, a bad example. It could also be used to move interrogation material to the battlefield to interrogate a fallen enemy soldier, keeping then alive long enough to provide information about the enemy.

     

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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Oct 31st, 2012 @ 4:36am

    Stay focused.

    I'm still waiting on my drone-delivered taco.


    Note: Taco, not missile. Taco.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 4:49am

    Sounds like a product looking for a market

     

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    Josh (profile), Oct 31st, 2012 @ 6:00am

    How is this a more valid concept than the taco-copter? If you can fly me a defibrillator, you can fly me my lunch.

     

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      Fickelbra (profile), Oct 31st, 2012 @ 6:06am

      Re:

      They're coming...fast food drones. Martha wants a chalupa but she weighs 400 lbs. Open your window Martha, Taco Bell loves you. Drive-thru's are SO the 20th century.

       

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    Darth Blue, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 6:49am

    So it'll cast Cure Beam?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 6:50am

    the portable defibs do require do a course and for the operator to be certified, even if they are easy to use and have detailed instructions. when someone is having a heart attack, is not the time to be trying to learn something new.

    plus they are very cheap, couple hundred dollars, you could probably buy several thousand of them for the price of one drone, that has anything like the capabilities you are talking about.

    what if the person having the attack is alone, is he expect to defib himself ??? or just hope someone is there willing to help ?? (and not just steal the defib ?)

    fire spotting, dam and power line inspections, search and rescue, coastal patrols, shipping inspections, oil slick detections, traffic monitoring, nude beach inspections.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 7:31am

      Re:

      when someone is having a heart attack, is not the time to be trying to learn something new.


      Unless trained aid is in sight, and announcing themselves loudly, the choice looks like watch them die or try to help with a defibrillator if one is available.

       

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        angelbar (profile), Oct 31st, 2012 @ 8:42am

        Re: Re:

        You only need to be safe by:

        Option 1.
        File for bankruptcy before the event.

        Option 2.
        Include a consent form in the defibilator that the almost-DEAD person need to sign.


        You have family to protect.

         

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 9:46pm

        Re: Re:

        you are not trained in basic first aid ? is your friends trained, your family ?? your boss? or your employees ? any of them trained in basic first aid ?

        a simple day or two course, for most of the population would save far more lives than as always trying to rely on the 'services' to do everything for you.. you dont like paying taxes, do you really want your tax money going to stupid idea's like this.

        or would you prefer your education system to include level 3 basic first aid, making the chances of having someone nearby able to save your life much higher.

        or would you prefer to watch, unable to do anything but call 911 ?

        basic first aid is as easy as ABC.. learn it.

         

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    identicon
    Really Glyn?, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 8:20am

    Ripe for abuse

    Yes Glyn, this will only be used for noble purposes /s, and that is exactly how it will be sold to get the American sheeple used to spy drones flying over our heads.

    Give me a break. Dont you realize how bad this will be if we allow it to happen? Nah of course not. I cant believe you are trying to sell it to us. NOT BUYING IT.

    We will all be livestock to be tracked and monitored by the time our kids reach our age.

    We have failed.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 1:21pm

    Your post assumes that the government has any interest in the public interest. No, the govt. is only interested in corporate interests and itself and that's what it will use drones and technology for.

     

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