New Research Highlights Potential of Drone Delivery of Medical Items


A group of researchers at University of Toronto are developing a drone that can carry a life-saving automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) directly to homes.

Justin Boutilier, a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, envisions that when a family member witnesses a cardiac arrest, he will call 911, and within minutes, an AED is flown to their doorstep or balcony.

The candidate is working with AssociateBoutilier Associate Professor Timothy Chan, director of U of T's Centre for Healthcare Engineering, in collaboration with Assistant Professor Angela Schoellig and researchers from St. Michael’s Hospital's Rescue program.

The main focus of Boutilier is to reduce cardiac arrests that occur at homes.

“For those arrests, the public AEDs are not useful because it’s hard to get to them in time. It’s also not cost effective to put AEDs everywhere in the suburbs,” explained Boutilier.

To determine where drones should be stationed and how many are needed to serve a given population, Boutilier obtained historical cardiac arrest data from eight regions in Southern Ontario, including dense urban cities and sparse rural communities.

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