A trial using 4G LTE cellular connectivity to enable beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) drones to deliver automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to the scene of a “cardiac arrest” has taken place in the County of Renfrew, Ontario, Canada. Working in partnership with technology providers, including InDro Robotics, Cradlepoint and Ericsson announced the trial demonstrated the drones’ capabilities to arrive more than seven minutes before paramedic vehicles during each test flight. The County of Renfrew Paramedic Service will use these results to plan deployment strategies that reduce time to treatment for people suffering cardiac arrest, and for those who need urgent medications, in private, residential or rural locations.
Completed in September 2019, the trial involved the County of Renfrew Paramedic Service flying the first LTE-connected drones equipped with AEDs to locations in a 10-mile operating radius that are BVLOS of emergency services and pilots. This project is one of the first in the country to be granted permission for this capability, which could significantly expand the reach of these emergency services. Successfully delivering AEDs to remote patients in need has the potential to improve survival rates for people suffering cardiac arrest or other dire medical conditions.
The drone flew over cellular to remote take-off points selected by GPS and landed successfully to deliver an AED to the onsite researchers. They then used the device to deliver required shocks to a medical mannequin. Translated to an actual cardiac arrest, the extra time provided by the drones would be crucial in saving the victim’s life.
As technology partners for the trial, InDro Robotics supplied the unmanned aerial vehicles, with Cradlepoint providing its NetCloud Service. Included in that is the on-board, rugged IoT router that enables LTE connectivity for control data and video between the vehicle and its pilot over a Canadian mobile carrier’s LTE advanced cellular network. Ericsson will offer 4G LTE equipment with carrier aggregation, as well as its cellular network design support and drone research.
The advanced drone and BVLOS traffic management technologies provided by InDro Robotics and Ericsson, and use of LTE for control and real-time video streaming provided by Cradlepoint and the mobile carrier, form the centerpiece of the County of Renfrew trial and its objective to increase the range and reduce time-to-site for remote cardiac arrest victims.
Previous line-of-sight trials using drones to assist emergency services have operated within the limitations of non-cellular communications technology and without the ability to use video, limiting them to trips of approximately 4.5 miles. By using the LTE cellular network, the County of Renfrew initiative offers the potential to deliver AEDs to patients up to 80 miles. To improve the mission-critical communications associated with these deliveries, the drones share images and video with operators and employ artificial intelligence to manage key functions, such as collision avoidance, all enabled by the speed, bandwidth and reliability of the LTE cellular network.
October 4, 2019
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