When storms knock out roads and bridges, one of the biggest challenges for emergency managers is getting supplies into the affected areas. New research at Oklahoma State University is looking to meet that challenge through the air.
OSU’s Unmanned System Research Institute has teamed up with Stillwater startup MaxQ to demonstrate the life-saving capabilities of drone technology. The project combines OSU’s drone expertise with MaxQ’s proprietary technology to improve delivery times for medicine and other crucial supplies. Time can mean the difference between life and death in a medical emergency. Drones can circumvent infrastructure damage and help save lives.
MaxQ’s revolutionary transport coolers can store blood and medicine in a lightweight, thermally insulated package that monitors the state of sensitive payloads. Drones with MaxQ technology could rapidly deliver medicine in a system that would be especially effective in hard-struck areas such as those recently hit by Hurricane Dorian.
“If we had this technology in the Bahamas now, I am confident we could help save lives and mitigate the suffering of the Bahamian people,” said OSU professor Jamey Jacob, director of the Unmanned System Research Institute. “It is only a matter of time before we see this capability deployed during every disaster to aid the first responders for the benefit of the victims.”
MaxQ’s wheelhouse is developing technologies to protect biologics during transport, but it is a relative newcomer to drone technology. MaxQ CEO Saravan Kumar said that’s what makes the company’s partnership with the USRI, which was founded in 2015 to capitalize on the expertise of OSU’s aerospace engineering program, such a powerful one.
“It’s a fantastic partnership,” he said. “OSU’s Unmanned System Research Institute has access to several different drone platforms, and this partnership has allowed us to marry our technology with unmanned delivery systems. I think this is just the beginning of our partnership, and we look forward to continuing to work with USRI to develop this platform and make it possible to save lives.”
Just last month, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approved tests for the first drone flight beyond the operator’s sight line. OSU has since received approval from the FAA to conduct limited Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) tests with multiple drones.
Future tests and demonstrations are planned at OSU’s Unmanned Aircraft Flight Station in Stillwater.
Drone regulations are fast evolving, and Kumar said he hopes that the work of this partnership will showcase the positive applications of drone tech and medical supply delivery.
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