Medical drone provides first aid in disaster areas

Natural disasters, acts of war or terrorist attacks are extreme situations for rescue workers: Many victims need initial medical care as quickly as possible. However, it is often hardly or not at all possible for the emergency services to reach the injured in a timely manner. In such situations, the "AirDoc" could be able to help out in the future: A young research team at Fraunhofer EMFT has developed the idea of a flying, autonomous first-aider. The medical drone robot is intended to reach dangerous, contaminated or inaccessible areas very quickly and provide first aid there autonomously. 

© Marc Müller
Presentation at the Fraunhofer Idea contest.

According to the concept, all persons in need of help can be identified and approached directly one after the other by using infrared and image recognition. The AirDoc has a medical robot arm in which highly miniaturized and energy-efficient sensors are integrated. This allows for direct diagnosis on injured patients. For example, sensors can be attached to the patient to gather information on key vital signs, such as pulse, EEG, ECG, oxygen saturation, body temperature, blood pressure, shock detection of the patient. The diagnosis can be monitored remotely by medical staff.

For immediate emergency assistance, the robot enables remote or autonomous administration of medications such as analgesics, epinephrine, dexamethasone or acrinor. For this purpose, the device is equipped with a miniaturized dosing unit that can deliver precise medication with the help of micropumps. In addition, medical staff can communicate remotely with the patient or responsive helpers on site and instruct further care. 

© Fraunhofer EMFT
The developer team with its AirDoc.
© Fraunhofer EMFT
Dosing unit ot AirDoc.
© Fraunhofer EMFT
AirDoc with sensor- and dosing unit.

Highly miniaturized micromembrane pumps enable autonomous drug dosing

A crucial part of ithe AirDoc is its miniaturized actuator technology for the robot arm motion  as well as for the drug delivery or even for diagnostic purposes, such as creating pressure in blood pressure measurement. These tasks can be performed by piezoelectric micromembrane pumps being developed at Fraunhofer EMFT.  With a minimal size of just 3.5x3.5x0.6mm³, they can be integrated into extremely small spaces.  The transport of fluids is very energy-efficient, so that no additional heavy batteries are required. 

The AirDoc concept was developed as part of the "Ramp up Resiliance" Idea Contest at the Fraunhofer Netzwert Symposium on 23-24 March 2021, where it was awarded with the second place. 

The research team is now looking for cooperation partners for the realization phase.



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