Assistance by drone: A flood of projects from the United States to New Zealand
Far from just a simple gadget that improves user comfort, drones can be employed to protect us and even save lives.
Numerous projects that focus on “assistance by drone” are being developed
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Parcel or medical deliveries, vehicle repairs, surveillance, firefighting, medical assistance, aerial shot-taking: there are so many sectors in which the use of drones will soon make our everyday lives easier.
Backup for all kinds of assistance
Flying devices will soon be called upon as backup in all fields of assistance, with the main objectives being to make remote areas more accessible and improve the existent personal care services.
The possibilities offered up by drones are extremely enticing, and an increasing number of test flights are being carried out in various different countries, from the United States to France, Greece and China. The Belgian authorities recently organised a full-scale simulation of a search operation for missing people using a drone, as reported in L'Avenir.
Beach surveillance, firefighting
Helper, a drone that monitors beaches and intervenes by throwing a buoy to swimmers in distress, was introduced this summer in the south-west of France.
Similar methods are currently being used in Nebraska (United States) to test out aerial assistance for firemen who are fighting a blaze. By dropping fire extinguishing devices from the sky into strategic areas, drones can help the firemen to control and direct the flames.
The following video was produced by the Kansas Fire Marshal’s office for fire suppression and investigation. It highlights their viewpoint on the value of UAS to assist in fire fighting.
Coming soon: “pharmacist drones”
In Bordeaux (France), trials carried out for the emergency delivery of blood and medicines have been highly conclusive. Meanwhile, in the United States, start-up company Zipline has been granted authorisation to deliver medicines and blood by drone to remote areas in the states of Washington, Nevada and Maryland.
The first flights, which will deliver orders made by doctors or hospitals via text message, should take place in the next six months. The American company’s drones will be able to transport up to 1.4 kilogrammes (3 pounds) of merchandise at a maximum speed of 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph), and will parachute their load down to the GPS coordinates provided by the client. The orders should be delivered within half an hour of being placed, assured Keller Rinaudo, founder of Zipline, on website The Verge.
So, local and national authorities are planning to use drones to improve the safety of their citizens, and the heavyweights of the online and high-tech industries are hot on their heels.
Amazon and Google are in the starting blocks
While Amazon sees drones as a way of delivering to its clients faster, parent company Google is developing its own “Project Wing”. On 25th August, Alphabet registered a patent for a system that provides assistance and medical support by drone.
This system would enable the nature of the problem to be assessed and suitable materials or medicines to be sent to the site, as in Bordeaux, accompanied, if necessary, by instructions for non-health professionals. But it would also be a guide for the emergency services, even in an aquatic environment, as the devices could be equipped with floats.
With regard to what is at stake, we are a long way from the pizza deliveries trialled by Domino’s in New Zealand and in France. But such initiatives serve to drive forward these technologies, which will one day save lives.