OSU Researchers Test Potential Use Of Drones For Medical Response

Thursday, April 23rd 2020, 6:57 pm
By: Kristen Weaver

Oklahoma State University's drone program Is considered one of the best in the world, and now OSU is testing out how it can use drones to help with the medical response to COVID-19.

 OSU researchers are testing how they could use drones to help for all kinds of emergencies, including COVID-19, with hopes they'll be able to get test kits or medical supplies out to people with limited contact.

“What we thought was we would be focused on disaster response after a tornado or wildfire,” said Dr. Jamey Jacob. “We didn't think we could respond to a global pandemic.”

But that's exactly what Dr. Jamey Jacob, the Director of the Unmanned Systems Research Institute at OSU, says their program is testing alongside Vigilant Aerospace, which uses technology from NASA.

“The focus here is to demonstrate capabilities doing this in a safe fashion,” said Jacob.

Jacob said their institute has already tested how they could drop blood or other supplies to people in need during disasters.

Last week, they did more test flights to see if they could use the unmanned systems, or drones, to pick up supplies from hospitals and drop them off at testing sites or directly to individuals:

“Testing kits, a liter of blood all the way up to tens of pounds of medical supplies,” he said.

Jacob said some of the drones even have a range of up to 40 miles.

He said their institute in Stillwater is one of the few in the nation allowed to operate beyond visual line of sight.

Jacob said soon drones will be used for all sorts of purposes.

“We know this is going to happen it's just a matter of time."

Researchers are still in the testing phase of using drones to help with responding to the pandemic.