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InDro Robotics, a leader in drone technology, has tested unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flights in downtown Montreal to deliver medical aid in a simulated emergency.
Working with the lead Héma-Québec, the team launched a UAV laden with what would have been blood supplies to rush it across the densely populated urban area straight to a simulated critical situation in the hospital.
“The tests are one of many across Canada set to prove the effectiveness of UAV technology to deliver vital medical supplies, blood and even defibrillators when normal routes are either jammed by a disaster event, dense rush hour traffic or even in rural, remote areas,” said Philip Reece, InDro Robotics’ CEO.
“We want to advance the knowledge regarding UAVs in mass casualty incidents,” he said. “This represents the first feasibility study of UAVs to deliver blood products to hospitals in an urban setting. We are confident it will be a faster solution compared to ground transportation.”
The team’s goal is to ensure rapid blood product delivery to trauma patients — a challenge in urban settings with current ground transportation in the face of frequent traffic jams and road closures.
Defibrillators are especially time critical. “If you give that first shock within the first five minutes, you essentially will resuscitate about three persons out of four — 75 percent of the people will survive,” said Dr. Francois de Champlain, MUHC lead researcher and emergency physician who was part of the test team. “I’m very excited,” Dr. Valérie Homier of MUHC said. “I think that drone technology will evolve and give us more and more opportunities.”
The partners included all stakeholders such as Urgences-santé, Exo-Tactik, Airbiz and Centre de Recherche et d’Innovation en Sécurité Civile (RISC).
Long-time InDro Robotics collaborator, the County of Renfrew Paramedic Service, also participated. It is the first responder paramedic service in Canada with the most experience using UAVs.
UAVs are rapidly taking off as the go-to solution for first responders and delivery logistic challenges, especially in rural areas. Bringing safe options to dense urban areas is the next challenge.
UAVs are faster, nimbler, and fly closer to the ground than a helicopter, and, of course, are much more affordable to acquire and operate.
“InDro Robotics is well positioned to serve this rapidly growing market since we’re Canadian, based in Vancouver, and not only do we design and build these machines, we also train and certify the pilots,” said Reece.