Drones, the hotly-debated subject of the U.S. military’s future, may now have a more humanitarian purpose. Definetz, a nonprofit based in Germany, has designed the “Defikopter,” an un-piloted flying machine that would deliver defibrillators to areas in which heart attack victims have difficult access to ambulances and hospitals.
Unlike ambulances, which are confined by the unpredictable nature of traffic (and, in rural or remote areas, roads), drones equipped with defibrillators can fly directly to victims in need of the service.
The product is being built by Height-Tech, a German company that has also designed drones that come equipped with cameras for personal or professional use. Under the he Defikopter weighs 10 pounds and can travel at speeds up to 43 miles per hour for up to six miles. The company estimates that the drone would cost around $40,000 and be fully ready for deployment in six months.
“Defikopter is one small supporting step towards an optimized responder structure. It’s for sports areas like golf clubs, difficult terrain such as coasts or mountains, and rural areas with weak infrastructure,” Definetz’s Friedrich Nölle told The Fast Company.
Definetz has already held a test demonstration of the product at one such location, a golf club in the Teutoburg Forest of West Germany.
The machine can be controlled by anyone with smart-phone access, and it drops a defibrillator to those able to provide the shock that helps heart attack victims until an ambulance or other professional medical assistance arrives.
While the Defikopter has a uniquely specific purpose, it’s likely that nonprofits and medical organizations will be closely watching the device’s success to determine whether or not the use of drones will be applicable to other medical issues. Private companies in the U.S. like San Francisco’s Darwin Aerospace laboratory, meanwhile, have been developing products such as “the Burrito Bomber, the world’s first airborne Mexican food delivery system, which would allow customers to have food parachuted right to their doorstep.”