Doctor-delivering drones more than a dream

Unmanned aerial vehicles could be delivering medical goods and surgeons to remote areas under the new Angel Drones project.
Unmanned aerial vehicles could be delivering medical goods and surgeons to remote areas under the new Angel Drones project. Contributed

DRONES may one day deliver medical supplies and even surgeons to remote parts of Australia - and it could happen sooner than you think.

A consortium of aviation, drone and health experts has launched the Angel Drone program, with drone-delivered medical goods trials expected to begin in the Northern Territory before the end of the year.

World-renowned brain surgeon Charlie Teo has been named the project's ambassador, with unmanned aerial vehicle company Aerolens heading up the operational side of things.

Aerolens Group commercial director Mark Puterflam said the program could be extended to heavily congested cities so emergency workers had quick access to medical goods like plasma without having to traverse high-traffic roads.

"To begin with trials are planned to take place in Northern Territory,” Mr Puterflam said.

"Assuming that that those are successful, then it would be expected that some trials could take place over more populated areas.

"The fact is that all of the parties involved are keen to see the Angel Drone program succeed.

"What that means is that no compromises will be made in the planning - to ensure that the objectives of delivering urgent medical supplies can be done safely and efficiently.

"This service could be utilised to enable delivery to the most remote regional locations where distances and actual locations are the challenge, through to urban areas where traffic is a major problem.”

The dream of having single-passenger drones transporting surgeons to remote parts of Australia remains some way off.

"Of course the one-man passenger drone technology needs to be proven, and the regulator needs to oversee trials in order to become comfortable that it can be carried out safely,” Mr Puterflam said.

"I would like to say that it will happen one day, but I don't think putting a time frame on it is helpful, as it would only be a guess.”

Mr Puterflam said Aerolens was the first - and perhaps only - drone company to have operating certificates in both Australia and the United States.

"Our mission statement which you see when you open our website is to use innovative technology for positive change,” he said.

"I am sure that you will agree that there is no better example of this than the Angel Drone program - which is why we are proud to be involved with the Angel Drone program which Dr Teo has endorsed. 

"It is also worth noting that one of Aerolens's management team, Howard Winkler, the president of Aerolens America sits on a leading aviation medical advisory board in the USA.

"Howard sees that the Angel Drone program in Australia is a world leader, and that in time the know-how can be exported all over the world.”


Topics:  drone medical

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