FOR THE WEEK OF MAY 13, 2019
We'll see more drones overhead as business and hospital uses expand
Read another article about a hospital, medical professional or patient. Why is it newsworthy?
Look for other technology coverage and describe any gee whiz portion.
Were those stories clear, even for someone unfamiliar with the topic? Did you look up – or skip -- any new word?
Business use of drones expands steadily as stores and delivery services, builders, photographers and even hospitals use the small, pilotless mini-aircraft. The commercial market is growing faster than expected, a recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) report says. Nearly 15,000 are registered each month, according to the government agency (not counting personal ones used by hobbyists). By 2023, the government estimates that 823,000 drones will be registered nationwide.
As drones "become operationally more efficient and safe, battery life expands and integration continues, new business models will begin to develop," the aviation agency says. Applications include delivery of drugstore prescriptions and other small, light packages, as well as like search and rescue by fire and police departments. A newsmaking advance came in mid-April when a Baltimore hospital used a drone to bring an organ to a patient – a time-critical mission demonstrated in the trial-run video below.
That medical flight was by a custom-made drone with eight rotors. The craft was roughly the size of a washing machine. Its 10-minute trip whisked a human kidney nearly three miles to a hospital, where surgeons successfully transplanted the organ into a 44-year-old woman who had waited eight years for a lifesaving transplant. It was the first such drone flight, and it almost certainly won't be the last. In North Carolina, a hospital uses drones to speed the delivery of blood and other medical samples across its campus. In a partnership with UPS, the drone carries a small cooler of medical samples to a lab three quarters of a mile away in less than four minutes in the air. UPS hopes to expand the service to other hospitals.
In a non-medical development, a Google-financed company named Wing is the first to get FAA approval for drone delivery of goods to businesses and homes. The app-based service already operates in Australia and soon will in Finland. It will begin in Virginia later this year. "We've never been able to receive goods that fast," said Mark Blanks, the director of Virginia Tech's drone program, which partnered with Wing.
Doctor says: "Organ drones have the potential to improve access to transplants, decrease costs and improve quality," Joseph R. Scalea, a transplant surgeon at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Transplant executive says: "If we can prove that this works, then we can look at much greater distances of unmanned organ transport. This would minimize the need for multiple pilots and flight time and address safety issues we have in our field." – Charlie Alexander, chief executive of the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland
University specialist says: "The biggest challenge for drone delivery going mainstream will probably be public acceptance. . . . Now we need to talk to the communities and figure out how to integrate this in a way that's beneficial for everyone." – Mark Blanks, director of the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership
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