Health

How drones could be used to save lives

By Meera Senthilingam and Susie East, for CNN

Updated 1:47 PM ET, Wed September 20, 2017
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Scientists are trialing drones to transport blood samples quickly and cheaply, through the air, to enable faster diagnoses and testing of patients in the field. Courtesy Johns Hopkins Hospital
Teams from the Core Laboratory at Johns Hopkins Hospital are testing the devices in open air fields near Baltimore. Blood samples were loaded on the drone and flown around for varying time periods between six and 38 minutes. Courtesy Johns Hopkins Hospital
Changes in air pressure during flight and the shaking of the drone in the wind and during takeoff and landing were all concerns, but it worked. The blood samples were completely unaffected by turbulence or changes in air pressure.
The regulations for drones differ in every country and in many cases are still being worked out. The samples here are packed in a special foam with a sponge that would fully absorb the specimens in the case of a crash. Courtesy Johns Hopkins Hospital
In some settings, including sub-Saharan Africa, access to labs and transport of samples for medical testing face challenges due to poor roads and lack of accessibility. Taking to the air with a drone aims to remove these hurdles. SIA KAMBOU/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Drones could also become a viable option for bypassing standstill traffic or other land obstacles. Matt Cardy/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
The team believes one of the key challenges in using drones is changing perceptions about the device and understanding that unmanned aircraft, like drones, can be used for good. Pictured, a prototype of a package delivery drone. BORIS HORVAT/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
As drones have become more popular and widely available a variety of uses have sprung up. This prototype ambulance drone, developed by scientists at Delft University of Technology, carries a built-in defibrillator. BAS CZERWINSKI/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
These small medical drones can fly at the speed of 100 km and aim to quickly deliver a defibrillator to patients suffering from a heart attack. BAS CZERWINSKI/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
In 2015, the first use of drones to collect medical supplies and transport them over rugged terrain in the state of Virginia was approved by the US government. This Flirtey non-military drone delivered medical supplies in Wise County, Virginia. Tim C. Cox