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Transportation The Military

Flying Robot Ambulance Finally Takes Its First Flight (popsci.com) 43

What weighs 2,400 pounds, flies 100 miles per hour, and doesn't haven't a pilot? An anonymous reader writes: This week Popular Science remembers a 2007 article which discovered "an amazing machine of the future, almost like a flying car, that seemed plausible but just out of reach" -- and reports that it's now finally performed "a full, autonomous flight on a preplanned route." Designed to provide unmanned emergency evacuations, it's been described as "a hovercar-like aircraft" flown with a built-in AI-controlled flight system.

Tuesday's route was two minutes long, and "According to Urban Aeronautics, the vehicle's Flight Control System made the decision to land too early." But what's significant is there's no human pilot. "Decisions by the flight controls are checked by the craft's flight management system, like a pilot overseen by a captain...all informed by an array of sensors, including 'two laser altimeters, a radar altimeter, inertial sensors, and an electro-optic payload camera.'"

The test brings the giant unmanned vehicle one step closer to its ultimate goal of becoming "a robot that can fly inside cities, weaving between buildings and hovering above any dangers on the ground below."
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Flying Robot Ambulance Finally Takes Its First Flight

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  • Decisions made by the flight controls? What?
  • hovering above any dangers on the ground below.

    I hope they built it tough enough to withstand RPG and ATGM hits... especially if they plan on doing a lot of "hovering".

  • But remember, automation CREATES new jobs as per the article a couple of spots down the front page.

  • The operation was a success, but the patient died..

    Make up your own Martian lander joke...

  • "We applied the cortical electrodes but were unable to get a neural reaction from either patient."
  • I do love automation, I really do but EMTs are an essential part of ambulances. Something flying like this would need to be able to carry at least 1000 pounds before it could really be useful. Also, I'm not really comfortable with leaving emergencies in the hands of autonomous machines because of the unpredictable nature of emergent situations.

    • This has nothing to do with being a 'flying ambulance'. That's just a silly thing that was stuck on the bottom of the funding proposal because it's really unlikely that it would cure cancer.

      Right now it is nothing more than a research grant tool. Maybe in a couple of years, when the knock the wobble out of the landing, it can deliver pizzas.

    • Re:nope. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by michael_cain ( 66650 ) on Sunday November 20, 2016 @12:27PM (#53327127) Journal
      It's a military device. The EMTs (combat medics in the US Army) are already deployed with the combat troops, so the planned use is probably evacuation of the wounded after the medics have done what they can.
      • When someone gets severely injured in combat they are stabilized as best as they can and a call for a helicopter is made. The helicopter has at least one medically trained person on board. The patients need medical care on the way back to base. What happens if the patient is receiving CPR when the drone arrives? Do you stop CPR and load them up? With a helicopter you load them and continue with treatment. What if the person experiences a cardiac arrest on the way back to base? They are dead if they are

  • Somehow the news reminded me about this one:
    http://www.arielambulance.org/... [arielambulance.org]

  • Which if I recall works to a slightly greater altitude in dual rotor systems. I remember reading about a company that's building a "flying car" which like this thing gets lift from a pair of large ducted fans arranged fore and aft; it's rate for 4m maximum operating altitude.

  • Without a medic on board, it isn't an ambulance, it is a meat wagon. Using something like this would be considered patient abandonment, this will never take off for use in the medical field. The idea of hauling people to the hospital as fast as possible was replaced with prehospital care a long time ago.

  • There are admittedly many technical problems with a robotic patient evacuation device. Some comments mentioned the importance of patient monitoring, and indeed that is a problem. However, being evacuated as a patient on a gurney is a far different experience than riding in a car or helicopter. Illness or injury provokes profound anxiety in many people. This is not merely emotional. It has physical effects. People can faint, have asthma attacks, develop heart rhythm abnormalities. Transporting even a simple

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