Inside Unmanned Systems

AUG-SEP 2016

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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28 unmanned systems inside August/September 2016 ugust/Septe August/September 2016 August/September 2016 be August/September 2016 0 August/September 2016 6 August/September 2016 AIR AERIAL SERVICES west to deliver blood, medicine and medi- cal products to rural/remote communities in Maryland, Nevada and Washington State, including Indian reservations and their surrounding communities. Flights are expected to begin six months after regulatory approval. Hospital Deliveries Today, much of the research involving health care-related drones centers around delivery to remote areas, but that's not the only way UAS can benefit this industry. Will Stavanja, founder of consulting com- pany Wilstair, is among those looking into how UAS can be used inside hospitals. One way is by transporting blood sam- ples and medications from floor to floor or building to building, rather than mak- ing such deliveries by foot or through the pneumatic tube systems hospitals typical- ly use, Stavanja said. This can be particu- larly helpful for growing hospitals making additions. Expanding a pneumatic tube system is a costly endeavor, but using a drone instead gives hospitals the ability to transport specimens and medications from floor to floor at a low cost. "As "As the technology continues to ad- the "As the technology continues to ad- technology continues to ad- vance, a small drone can be scheduled a vance, a small drone can be scheduled small drone can be scheduled to deliver medicine at 3 in the afternoon er to deliver medicine at 3 in the afternoon medicine at 3 in the afternoon to room X," he said. "As long as each of the waypoints are programmed for the drone's trajectory, the drone can complete operations a pneumatic tube can't." While Stavanja is excited about the po- tential uses for drones inside hospitals, like most UAS applications, there are sev- eral challenges to making it a reality. The first is communication. Outdoor drones rely on GPS signals and radio frequencies to complete their missions, both of which are limited indoors. Blue tooth technol- ogy might offer a solution to that chal- lenge, but researchers also need to figure out a way to fully automate drones so they understand their environment and re- member where they are. Then there's the weight. Typically the smarter the UAS, the larger it is—and the more expensive. To keep costs down, these drones will need to be small. And of course, safety is always a concern, as well as the battery life needed to get from point A to point B. Many of the people reluctant to use drones inside hospitals are worried it could cost people their jobs, Stavanja said. But he argues it will free them up to spend more time with patients and focus on other tasks. There will also be a need for people to provide f light paths and manage the drones to ensure they're transporting the right package at the right temperature to the right location. "With a smart phone app nurses can in- dicate they need such and such delivered to room X and the drone can be immedi- ately programed to do so," Stavanja said. "This also gives hospitals the opportunity to use existing staff to do other jobs and support other demands of the hospital. Drones can take on some of the smaller Photos courtesy of Zipline Zips have the ability to make about 150 blood deliveries in a day. THE ZIKA VIRUS Dr. Joseph Eyerman, a senior researcher at the research institute, RTI International, has been using drones in research projects since 2012. UAS help lower the cost of gathering data, improve the quality of the data collected and gives him more control. One of his most recent projects involves deploying UAS to support the Zika virus response in Guatemala. They're deploying UAS to map villages and identify likely nesting sites for mosquitos that carry the virus. The maps are then delivered to vector control teams who use them to eradicate the sites. They recently completed phase one of this project and plan to return at some point for further study. For more on how UAS are used to combat disease spread by mosquitos and other bugs, read Drones Joining Arsenal of Disease-Fighting Tools at Rwanda: Zipline Zipline delivery sites.

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