During a military preparedness exercise with several thousand participants in the USA, the use of a drone to assess the medical situation was also tested. The drone is to collect medical information in the field. The aim is to find injured people quickly and to identify their state of health.
On the one hand, it is about their local position and also the information as to whether they are sitting, standing or lying down. The drone should also determine and monitor the type and severity of wounds and various vital signs of the injured (respiration, blood pressure, heartbeat). The data can enable remote medical assessment and triage.
The drone is equipped with VISTA technology (Vision and Intelligence Systems for Medical Teaming Applications) and, after 4 years of development, has now been used for the first time in such a field exercise together with medical personnel. The system was tested with the 294th Medical Company Area Support (MCAS). This unit has a Medical Treatment Squad that operates on-site (if necessary) on injured people and carries out life-saving measures.
VISTA is based on an automated image-based medical sensing (AIMS) system previously developed by the US Army and the Areté company. AIMS is intended to be used in triage on the battlefield or in locations with mass casualties. The system uses the drone’s camera, complemented by computer vision and integrated medical sensor software, to recognize human victims and assess their situation.
AIMS has 5 functions: recognizing people, their position, measuring various vital parameters, recognizing visible wounds and characterizing these wounds, monitoring and documenting the injured person from the site of the injury to the point of care.
Drone measures heart rate using photoplethysmography
Heart and respiratory rates can be measured through the skin using photoplethysmography (PPG). At PPG, the drone sends infrared light onto the skin and at the same time measures how much light the skin reflects. Many wearables also use PPG.
According to Areté, several neural networks have been trained and their performance combined with advanced signal processing. As a result, with a low false positive alarm rate, weak signals could also be evaluated. The system has been successfully tested with people wearing body armor, such as soldiers. It can scan people and their vital parameters at a distance of 10 to 50 meters.
The AIMS sensors can be attached to different types of (unmanned) vehicles, drones and cameras. In the VISTA project, which has not yet been completed, the detection of signals from injured persons is to be further improved. The field exercise that has now been carried out is intended to incorporate the experiences of the medical staff and their feedback on the use of drones into the further development.
The use of the drone with the new system took place during Northern Strike Exercise 23-2. The drone’s medical capabilities were intended to show its potential for “broader use in disaster response scenarios” in collaboration with medical practitioners.
The AIMS system developed by Arete can be used by any camera. In trials in 2021, it was demonstrated on an Ascent Aerosystems SPIRIT coaxial drone.
(Image: Tamir Eshel)
As early as 2021, Areté demonstrated the capability of the AIMS sensors for the first time in a field test and received a so-called TRL-6 readiness level. Technology Readiness Level 6 (PDF) means that the technology has been demonstrated as a prototype system in a relevant operational environment. The Iowa Medical Company and the Army Medical Research and Development Command’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) are also involved in the development of the medical drone.
#Monitor #casualties #status #combat #zones #drone