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Drone ambulance could be wave of medical future

Drone ambulance could be wave of medical future
(CBS News/Reuters)

PASADENA, Cal - Researchers in California are developing an autonomous drone ambulance that could help get people to a hospital or out of harm's way in an emergency.

CalTech researchers describe this ambulance as the future of emergency response.

The self-flying rescue drone has been in development for two years.

It's designed to rapidly fly a patient to a hospital or rendezvous point with a doctor.

Researchers envision the vehicle transporting people facing medical emergencies like heart attacks or strokes, and airlifting injured or trapped victims from hard to reach disaster zones including wildfires or flood zones.

Sensors inside monitor the patient's vital signs during flight.

With is one of a kind wall, researchers are simulating nearly every weather condition to test how the drone responds.

For now, they're using a 1/5th scale model, but the actual drone will be the size of a small car and piloted by an artificial intelligence system.

Researchers hope to launch a long range test of a larger, self-flying model before the end of 2018. They predict a full-sized drone rescue system could be in use within 3 to 5 years.

Researchers say batteries powering the drone ambulance should allow the vehicle to fly for up to twenty minutes per trip.

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