First Aid

First Aid

Little Ripper UAS helps save swimmers in Australia

In Lennox Head, New South Wales, Australia, lifeguards from the Australian Lifeguard Service were preparing for a training session to familiarize themselves with UAS equipment when a call came in about two distressed swimmers. Approximately a kilometer north of the patrolled area, two men were swimming in powerful surf conditions, when someone noticed that they were having difficulty in the three meter swell. ​At the time, lifeguard Supervisor Jai Sheridan was piloting a Westpac Little Ripper UAS, so he immediately responded, and within minutes of the initial alert, located the swimmers. Sheridan dropped a rescue pod from the UAS to the swimmers, and they were able to cling onto it and make their own way to shore. They were met by lifeguards from Lennox Head, and besides showing signs of fatigue, they were unharmed from the ordeal. “The Little Ripper UAV certainly proved itself today it is an amazingly efficient piece of lifesaving equipment and a delight to fly,” Sheridan said after the rescue. “I was able to launch it, fly it to the location, and drop the pod all in about one to two minutes. On a normal day that would have taken our lifeguards a few minutes longer to reach the members of the public.” This UAS technology and payload ability has been in development for three intensive years, according to Westpac Little Ripper CEO Eddie Bennet. Bennet was extremely pleased with how well the technology worked in this life-saving scenario. “The Westpac Little Ripper’s rescue today of the 2 young swimmers, in the 3 meter dangerous swell, clearly illustrates the benefit of this cutting edge technology in such a time critical emergency situation,” Bennet says. “The investment by Westpac in allowing the development of the Westpac Little Ripper, is the new generation of rescue services.”

DJI To Sponsor AUVSI XPONENTIAL’s Inaugural Humanitarian Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 1, 2018 Contact: Tom McMahon, tmcmahon@auvsi.org, (571) 255-7786 DJI To Sponsor AUVSI XPONENTIAL’s Inaugural Humanitarian Awards Nominations are now open for those using unmanned technology to save lives and improve health and the environment ARLINGTON, Va. – AUVSI XPONENTIAL, the event that brings more than 8,500 unmanned technology industry leaders and forward-thinking users from the defense and commercial sectors together to learn the latest on policy, business solutions and technology applications, is pleased to announce that industry leader DJI will sponsor the first-ever AUVSI XCELLENCE Humanitarian Awards. The Humanitarian Awards are designed to bring much-deserved recognition to those using unmanned systems technology to save lives, improve health, and relieve hardship and suffering. DJI is the market-leading manufacturer of civilian drones and aerial imaging technology. DJI products are used in agriculture, conservation, search and rescue, energy infrastructure, and more to help drive safer, faster operations, and with greater efficiency than ever before. “DJI embodies the spirit and intent of the Humanitarian Awards as it strives to create transforming and complex technology into easy-to-use devices that save time, money and, mostly importantly, lives,” said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI. “We are pleased to partner with such a dynamic and innovative company whose cutting-edge products are being used for many humanitarian missions.” This special award will be part of the inaugural AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards program, taking place during AUVSI XPONENTIAL, April 30 to May 3, 2018, at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. This program will honor innovators in the unmanned systems industry, organizations and individuals, with a demonstrated commitment to promoting safe practices, and will highlight operations using unmanned systems to improve the human condition. AUVSI seeks to recognize five organizations and/or individuals that have made a significant impact using unmanned systems to serve in humanitarian or philanthropic efforts. Nominations for the AUVSI Humanitarian Awards are now open (entry is free) with winners to be announced and recognized during the Day 3 keynote at AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2018 on May 3. The keynote topic will serve to acknowledge and celebrate the use of unmanned systems in public safety and humanitarian efforts. Award winners will be recognized with a $25,000 donation divided among the winners’ organizations. Submission details and donation information can be found on the AUVSI XCELLENCE Award web page. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, February 21, 2018. “Drones are being used around the world today in incredible and meaningful ways, and we want to take this opportunity to honor and reward the organizations and individuals that have used this technology for humanitarian good – from supporting search-and-rescue efforts that save lives to enabling research endeavors that strengthen global sustainability and development goals,” said Michael Perry, managing director, North America at DJI. “We are thrilled to partner with AUVSI on this initiative to showcase and celebrate remarkable stories and applications with the world in hopes that it will inspire further use of drone technology for humanitarian good.” In addition to the Humanitarian Award, the AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards will feature three other categories that recognize innovators striving to foster industry growth and maximize unmanned technology's potential. Categories include Technology Innovation, Training and Education, and Operation and Safety. AUVSI XPONENTIAL is the largest trade show for the unmanned systems and robotics industry. The 2018 exhibit hall will showcase more than 725 cutting-edge companies from around the world and more than 200 educational sessions, providing information about the future of unmanned systems policy, technology, business solutions, and trending topics. For more information and to register, visit xponential.org. # # # ABOUT AUVSI The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) — the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of unmanned systems and robotics — represents more than 7,500 members from more than 60 countries involved in the fields of government, industry and academia. AUVSI members work in the defense, civil and commercial markets. For more information, visit AUVSI.org. ABOUT DJI DJI, the world’s leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, was founded and is run by people with a passion for remote-controlled helicopters and experts in flight-control technology and camera stabilization. The company is dedicated to making aerial photography and filmmaking equipment and platforms more accessible, reliable and easier to use for creators and innovators around the world. DJI’s global operations currently span across the Americas, Europe and Asia, and its revolutionary products and solutions have been chosen by customers in over 100 countries for applications in filmmaking, construction, inspection, emergency response, agriculture, conservation and other industries. */

UNICEF announces funding opportunity for drone startups

The UNICEF Innovation Fund is seeking make $100,000 equity-free investments in technology startups that plan to use drones to benefit humanity.   “If you’ve got a start-up registered in one ofUNICEF’s program countries and have a working, open-source drone prototype or service (or you are willing to make it open-source) showing promising results, the UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking for you,” the fund says on its website.   The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 22. UNICEF is seeking software to collect and share data, manage flight and delivery operations, unmanned traffic management systems and business models for sustainable drone services, among other needs.   UNICEF will in turn provide equity-free funding of $50,000 to $100,000, product and technology development, business mentors, and also will make its drone corridor in Malawi available for use.   For more information, and to apply, click here.

Orange County, Florida to use UAS to locate people with cognitive diseases if they wander away

In Orange County, Florida, UAS will be used to locate people with a cognitive disease if they wander away from home or a facility. A pilot program is being spearheaded by state Sen. Linda Stewart, and $75,000 of state money will be used to launch the initiative. “This technology will help find people much faster than by foot, by car, even a motorcycle,” Stewart says via the Orlando Sentinel. In Tallahassee, Florida, Stewart also led the charge there to get the program funded. Stewart began pushing for the program after learning that a half-million people with Alzheimer’s were reported missing in Florida in 2017. The technology for the program is being provided by Project Lifesaver, which is a “community based, public safety, non-profit organization that provides law enforcement, fire/rescue, and caregivers with a program designed to protect, and when necessary, quickly locate individuals with cognitive disorders who are prone to the life threatening behavior of wandering,” according to the organization’s website. Project Lifesaver will provide tracking devices for those with cognitive disorders, and the device can be placed on a person’s foot or ankle. Deputies will work with 911 to find the person using a frequency emitted from the device. The transmitter costs $325, but exceptions can be made for those who can’t afford them. The seed money will be used to purchase a UAS and the training required involving two deputies. “I think it’s a lifesaver there is no way around it,” Stewart says. “Not only that but the desperation that families feel when their loved ones who have autism or Alzheimer’s --- they’re not in house, not where they’re supposed to be. “What do you do then? You panic. What we’ve had to do is call deputies and have them circle around in their cars. With this device, we can find them almost immediately.” The hope is to extend the program across the state of Florida by next year.

Lone Star UAS Center to provide UAS support following natural disasters in Nueces County, Texas

After signing an interlocal agreement with Nueces County, Texas, the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence and Innovation (LSUASC) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi will begin providing UAS support in response to future natural disasters in the county. ​Through the agreement, which was signed on Oct. 31 by Loyd Neal, county judge and emergency management director for Nueces County, the Nueces County Emergency Operations Center will have more support at its disposal when helping with response efforts in the county.  “Whether it’s another Hurricane Harvey or flooding because of rains in the watershed, with this agreement we will be able to help everyone get back on their feet and provide assistance when an emergency or disaster pops up,” says Tye Payne, operations chief for LSUASC. “This is a really big win, not just for the county and TAMU-CC but for all the people who live here.” With the agreement in place, Judge Neal can now call on LSUASC to provide UAS support anytime an emergency is declared. An example of when LSUASC might be called upon is when roads become too treacherous to traverse following events such as floods. In this instance, LSUASC support can be requested to send UAS to determine a safer route for responders. Under the agreement, LSUASC will also be able to gather video data to evaluate and categorize the severity of damage to buildings and property, even before floodwaters recede. Additionally, the agreement will allow LSUASC to request a temporary flight restriction from the FAA, to make sure that LSUASC UAS are the only aircraft flying in Nueces County airspace during times of emergency. “This agreement is a great example of the University making a positive impact on the community by providing our unique services and expertise,” comments Mike Sanders, acting executive director for LSUASC. “I know this is the kind of partnership President Quintanilla encourages us to form. It’s a partnership that will have a real and lasting impact well beyond the University and the city.” LSUASC says that the agreement is for one year, and it will automatically be renewed annually for up to five years.

UPS Flight Forward, CVS to use drones to deliver medicines to Florida retirement community

UPS has announced that starting in May, its subsidiary UPS Flight Forward and CVS will use drones to deliver prescription medicines from a CVS pharmacy to The Villages, Florida, which is the largest U.S. retirement community, home to more than 135,000 residents. Utilizing Matternet’s M2 drone system, the service will operate under the FAA’s Part 107 rules, with authority to operate through the Coronavirus pandemic and explore ongoing needs as they arise after that period. The operation could expand to include deliveries from two more CVS pharmacies in the area. During the first flights, which are expected to be less than one half mile, deliveries will be made to a location near the retirement community. To start, a ground vehicle will complete the delivery to the resident’s door. “Our new drone delivery service will help CVS provide safe and efficient deliveries of medicines to this large retirement community, enabling residents to receive medications without leaving their homes,” says Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer. “UPS is committed to playing its part in fighting the spread of Coronavirus, and this is another way we can support our healthcare customers and individuals with innovative solutions.” In 2019, UPS and CVS announced plans to jointly explore using drones to make deliveries. In Nov. 2019, they successfully completed their first drone deliveries of medical prescriptions from a CVS pharmacy in Cary, North Carolina. “Now more than ever, it’s important that our customers have access to their prescriptions,” says Jon Roberts, executive vice president and chief operating officer of CVS Health. “In addition to our in-store pickup, free delivery services and drive through pickup, this drone delivery service provides an innovative method to reach some of our customers.”

Everdrone using UAS to deliver defibrillators to the scene of cardiac arrests

In Sweden, autonomous drone technology company Everdrone has announced that it is now using UAS to deliver Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) to the scene of cardiac arrests, which will allow bystanders to initiate life-saving measures while they wait for professional medical care. Everdrone notes that each year, out-of-hospital cardiac arrests affect approximately 275,000 individuals in Europe. The survival rate in these instances is about 10 percent, but that number could increase to as much as 70 percent when CPR and early defibrillation is initiated within the first few minutes, according to research. The service is part of a clinical study in collaboration with Sweden’s national emergency call center, SOS Alarm, and the Centre for Resuscitation Science at Karolinska Institutet (KI), and is now available to more than 80,000 residents in the Gothenburg area of Sweden. “By combining our state-of-the-art drone platform and know-how in the regulatory space, we are finally able to launch this life-saving application,” says Mats Sällström, CEO of Everdrone. “The collaboration with SOS Alarm and KI has been absolutely crucial for the realization of the concept in terms of being able to perform a swift alarm response, and to manage the medical and ethical issues involved.” Expected to launch in June, the initial study will run through the end of Sept. 2020. Three UAS will be placed in designated locations, ready to respond to emergency 112-calls immediately for emergencies occurring within a radius of six kilometers. “In the event of a cardiac arrest, the drone is dispatched at the same time as the ambulance and will certainly be the first to arrive on the scene,” explains Mattias Regnell, head of Innovation and Research at SOS Alarm. “Our operators are ready to instruct bystanders on how to initiate the life-saving device.” When the drone arrives at the designated location, the AED will lower to the ground while the drone remains hovering at 30 meters altitude. Everdrone says that this procedure eliminates several risks associated with landing a drone close to people. “The method of lowering the defibrillator from the drone with the help of a winch is something we have been developing and testing for a long time,” Sällström says. “We have performed countless test deliveries in recent months, and the results show that the method works very well.” According to Everdrone, it is one of just a few companies in the world that has been granted permission to conduct urban drone operations, thanks in large part to its safety portfolio and a long-standing dialogue with authorities. “Safety is at the core of everything we do at Everdrone. Even though the drones we use are extremely safe in themselves, we still need to foresee every conceivable fault scenario and put solutions in place to handle them,” Sällström says. Everdrone’s flight system is equipped with obstacle avoidance functionality built on Intel RealSense technology, intelligent route planning that greatly reduces flight time over people, and a certified onboard parachute system, which lowers the risk to people on the ground in the case of a bird strike or critical propulsion failure. The outcome of the emergency operations will continuously be evaluated within a research study conducted by KI. KI will present the results of the study later this year, with hopes of expanding operations to other parts of Sweden and Europe by next year. “We see enormous potential for this type of fully-integrated drone system. This study is unique, the first of its kind in the world, and we look forward to objectively evaluating the project together with Everdrone and SOS Alarm,” says Andreas Claesson, associate professor at KI.

Wingcopter Secures $22 Million in Series A Funding to Aid in COVID-19 Relief

Wingcopter has secured $22 million in Series A funding to strengthen its leadership in drone-based logistics, with a special focus on healthcare-related applications including the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. “Our team is driven by tackling the world’s challenges through scalable innovations,” said Wingcopter CEO Tom Plümmer. “This chapter of our journey is dedicated to setting up logistical highways in the sky that leapfrog traditional means of transportation.”  One of the major barriers to the equitable distribution of medical resources is poor infrastructure – a problem Wingcopter is hoping to solve, Plümmer said. “With the support and powerful networks of our investors we are taking a huge step closer to fulfilling our vision of creating efficient and sustainable drone solutions that improve and save lives everywhere.” COVID-19 has severely exacerbated a problem that affects billions of people worldwide, and Wingcopter’s plans will continue beyond the pandemic’s eventual end. Wingcopter will also expand its manufacturing capabilities at home in Weiterstadt, Germany. Their new headquarters – which is already home to more than 100 employees - will allow for production to be ramped up to meet the ever-growing global demand of the industry. In addition to their efforts distributing COVID-19 vaccines, Wingcopter recently started a long-term project in Malawi, Drone + Data Aid, to improve healthcare supply chains together with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The German drone manufacturer also partnered with UNICEF’s African Drone and Data Academy, training local youth in drone operations, from mission planning to piloting beyond visual line of sight delivery. The current model of the delivery drone being used in these efforts, the Wingcopter 178 Heavy Lift, provides both one- and two-way delivery, covering distances of up to 120 kilometers. It can accurately lower a package through a winch mechanism, or land at the point of destination and return to its origin with new payload. Pre-orders can already be placed. 

COVID-Fighting Collaboration Proves Potential of UAS for Test Transport

Exercise in upstate N.Y. shows how flight could replace drives through downtown traffic. A team of more than a dozen COVID-19-motivated entities with expertise in public health, public safety and unmanned flight recently enjoyed a hard-won peek into the future of UAS in medical transport in upstate New York. The peek included roughly 15 flights, including a media demonstration, in January to prove the ability to move COVID test kits between the State University of New York’s Upstate University Hospital and the hospital’s diagnostics lab in the Central New York Biotech Accelerator. The facilities are fewer than 1,000 yards apart by air, officials estimated, but the hospital has long relied on automotive transport back and forth across about seven blocks of 30-mph traffic in downtown Syracuse. Dr. Robert Corona, chief executive officer of Upstate University Hospital, said he was so excited that he felt like a kid as he watched the demonstration Jan. 16. Corona said his enthusiasm for flight goes back to his teens, when he learned to pilot small planes, and his enthusiasm for UAS as a potential means of medical transport also goes back years.   “This was a wild dream of mine from back in my days as pathology chair,” said Corona, laughing as he recalled the looks of doubt he used to get when describing his hopes to hospital colleagues. “We are grateful that CHURP chose Syracuse and the SUNY system to validate this vital technology.” Standing beside Corona at the demonstration was Tony Basile, chief operating officer of NUAIR, a nonprofit that manages the New York UAS Test Site at Griffiss International Airport. The hospital and NUAIR were key players on the wide-ranging team that spent most of 2020 orchestrating the proof-of-concept exercise – a team dubbed the COVID-19 Humanitarian UAS Response Partnership, or CHURP. While the flights were short, the preparation required was long and complicated, Basile emphasized. He praised CHURP’s founders, the international law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Jacksonville, Fla.-based Emergent 121 Consulting, for their role in facilitating the effort. CHURP got underway in early spring, as New Rochelle, N.Y., reeled from the shock of being an early epicenter of the pandemic. “Once we got going, we would have three phone calls a week,” Basile said. “With each week’s phone call, there would be one or two new entities on board – and there were, you know, some very big names, contributing ideas.” Participation was especially strong, Basile said, because while the potential for UAS to streamline medical transport is widely recognized, the actual use of unmanned aircraft for that purpose has been slow to take off. Examples of progress have arisen in Maryland, where a kidney for transplant was delivered by UAS to the University of Maryland School of Medicine; and in North Carolina, where WakeMed Health and Hospitals uses drones to transport medical samples. But each leap forward in a new location has required years of groundwork. Regulatory complexities that CHURP dealt with, Basile said, included the need for an FAA waiver to fly over people and moving vehicles,  a waiver that has since become unnecessary for flights within the parameters of an FAA rule finalized in December. Another tricky area, he said, involved restrictions on the transport of hazardous materials. Those restrictions ultimately led CHURP to test only the transport of unused COVID test kits. Preparation also included pilot training, which was handled by DroneUp. Pilots flew DJI Inspire small quads with Indemnis parachutes, and carried payloads of a pound or less at the end of an 8-foot tether, Basile said. Lessons dealt with such matters as handling the tethered setup, as well as avoiding conflicts with air ambulance flights. There are no immediate plans to use UAS to transport COVID-19 tests routinely, Basile said. But enthusiasm about the success of the exercise has CHURP team members looking beyond COVID for ways to use UAS. Possibilities under discussion, Basile said, include the transport of tissue samples and medication.  “The ability to quickly and safely transport pharmaceutical items is a game-changer,” he said. “In the healthcare world, where every minute counts, the collaborative work we’ve done here showcases the viability, economic advantages, and life-saving potential of contactless drone deliveries.”    

AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2018

Monday, April 30, 2018 - 01:00 PM to Thursday, May 3, 2018 - 04:00 PM
This premier event unites the largest global community of drone, intelligent robotics and unmanned systems leaders to shape the future of the industry. Featuring the largest and most comprehensive trade show, this event is the spot to learn from daily keynotes with tech visionaries and 200+ world-class sessions as well as connect with 8,500+ industry pros and business experts from 20+ industries. www.xponential.org