Mars Helicopter Drone Has Implications for EMS

An artist's concept of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter on the Martian surface.
An artist's concept of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter on the Martian surface. (Image/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Update: Mission control has received the first status report from the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter on Mars. It landed at Jezero Crater attached to the belly of the agency’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover.

Both the helicopter, which will remain attached to the rover for 30 to 60 days, and its base station (an electrical box on the rover that stores and routes communications between the rotorcraft and Earth) are operating as expected.


JEMS Editor Emeritus A.J. Heightman invites fellow drone geeks and visionaries to follow San Diego tech company Qualcomm’s four-pound drone (aka “Ingenuity Helicopter”) attached to the underside of NASA’s “Perseverance” Rover.  

The Ingenuity helicopter will be launched on five flights over a 30-day period, which you’ll be able to follow on NASA.com.

The high-tech drone, which required 54,000 hours of work effort by Qualcomm to develop, is the first ground controlled, powered flight to get off the ground in harsh conditions on Mars’ atmosphere.

Emergency service agencies will benefit from the 54,000 hours of work to develop this special drone because it will feature a battery, electrical components, cameras and programmable components critical to carrying medical equipment such as AED’s to specific locations rapidly.

The Qualcomm drone’s rotors must operate in turbo mode all the time. So the biggest thing they had to worry about was a small battery and power efficient processors to keep it light.

It features computer-vision navigation and point to point wireless communications between Earth and the drone.

“Ingenuity” will utilize Qualcomm’s processors to analyze special sensor data and images of the terrain to ensure it avoids obstacles and stays on flight path. It also has a programmable thermostat that will keep it warm on Mars.

As I have been reporting over the last several years, drones have been moving medical supplies and equipment throughout Europe and Canada and are now starting to play a key role in the United States. 

As reported in a recent JEMS article by Dr. Joseph Ornado,  medical director for the Richmond Ambulance Authority, RAA has trained drone pilots who will send Narcan to the exact location of a reported overdose in the Richmond area so that citizens can administer the life-saving drug to the unconscious person minutes before the arrival of first responders.

The future is now for  visionary EMS leaders who realize and jump on board this important new transportation and equipment resource.

I always advise you to go to the “Chula Vista (CA) Police Department Drone project” to see actual case/drone footage and examples of how their police drone is doing magnificent things directly from artificial intelligence (AI) that allows it to be launched as soon as a caller calls 911.

The two Chula Vista police drones are now able to arrive overhead at scenes minutes before the dispatcher can even put the call out to police units because drone operators hear the call as it comes into the dispatch center.

They do this through a new AI “Live911” program that is being instituted in other cities and counties throughout the country.

“Live 911” automatically identifies the closest emergency unit, such as a police vehicle, and opens up its computer screen and audio to hear exactly what is being said to the dispatcher. This allows people in that area to hear the mood of the caller and descriptions of what is occurring.

The Chula Vista drones are arriving overhead at the scene of auto accidents and sending back live feeds of conditions at the scene.

You can see the potential for drones and the potential to use this Qualcomm technology if you follow this Mars drone project.

The drone will be utilizing special cameras developed in San Diego County by Malin Space Science Systems that will take images on the surface in in the air.

The perseverance is scheduled to land in Mars JEZERO crater at 12:55 p.m.

Today’s landing will be covered live on the main NASA website nasa.gov.

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