Unleash the drones! How can drone use cases save lives?

Drones can deliver defibrillators four times faster than any ambulance. By reaching into every corner of the consumer and industrial markets, expect a wide variety of LTE and 5G drone use cases to take flight in the coming years. In this post, we explore the potential of upcoming drone use cases – including even opportunities in emergency services.

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A few weeks ago, my phone sounded an alarm notifying me that someone was having a cardiac arrest near me. I received it because I am part of an emergency services' program which sends me an alarm for support if they believe I can be first on site where a cardiac arrest occurs.

The app also lets volunteers know where they can find the closest defibrillator and directs them to the incident. In the past, I have received an alert a few times as I have been running, have jumped on a bike once and even got an alert on the highway driving my car. On one of these occasions, I even managed to be on site before the ambulance. Only by a minute or so, but I did beat them. And when someone has a cardiac arrest, every second counts.

As I said, one of the functions in the app is to guide me to the closest defibrillator, and from there go to the incident. For the most part, I am pretty close to the defibrillator at work, but for some of the events, I have been too far away to get to one. Of course, I still react if I believe I have a chance to help - with or without a defibrillator - but I do prefer having one with me.

Delivering defibrillators by drone

But maybe that can change for the future? A new drone use case is under development thanks to a project between Telia, Ericsson and Karolinska Institute of Medicine wherein we are exploring if 5G and drones can offer emergency help. The idea is that, when someone calls the emergency services for support in the event of a cardiac arrest, they can dispatch a drone with a defibrillator to the incident, travelling four times faster than an ambulance. No need to find the closest defibrillator for me before running to the person in need – I know a drone will deliver it within minutes.

Drones can also be used for other critical use cases. Several projects around the world involve autonomous drones for avalanche beacon rescue. This drone use case is about deploying an autonomous drone in one corner of the avalanche and letting it scan the whole area for beacons, saving critical time for rescue workers to find anyone trapped in the avalanche.

Drones flying beyond line of sight

This is only one area of drone use case development, of course. In the US, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) predicts that, by 2025, the drone market will create an USD 82 billion economic impact and account for 100,000 jobs. In a recent Ericsson white paper – titled Drones and networks: Ensuring safe and secure operations – the authors identified a host of 5G-based drone use cases from broadcasting to agriculture to traffic safety but also write:

"The potential of drone technology will only truly be unleashed when both technological capabilities and regulations allow for autonomous operation beyond visual line of sight."

Going beyond the visual line of sight requires much more scalable, reliable, and secure connectivity such as that provided by mobile LTE and 5G networks.

AI, site inspection and our drone testing program

We're integrating drones into a host of areas, cellular and broadband IoT and automating site inspection. At MWC Barcelona, we also showcased an AI-based drone detection technology that can maintain spectral efficiency for users even when there are a lot of drones in the air, such as at a sporting event.

To explore more, check out posts from Ericsson Research on Drones and networks: mobility support and Towards zero touch - automating site inspection.

Or you can read about Ericsson's Connected Drone Testing program, which includes in-lab chipset and module testing, LTE field testing, real-time network performance analytics and CTIA cybersecurity testing of drones in the Ericsson CTIA Authorized Test Lab (CATL).

Telecom is ready. Are you ready to unleash the potential of drones?

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