Drone Teams Could Provide Soldier Transport


An unfortunate reality is that when the brave men and woman of our Armed Forces put themselves in harm’s way, harm often finds them. This unfortunate truth places an obvious priority on treating wounded soldiers as rapidly as possible, and the first step is getting them off the battlefield.

Here’s where work by researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute comes into play. The group is investigating how medics and stretchers could be replaced by a team of drones that would work together in transporting wounded soldiers or removing civilians from disaster areas.

The eight-propeller drones would feature lifting capacities of 65 pounds each, and would theoretically carry individuals up to 500 yards where a waiting vehicle would finish the journey to a medical station, base or hospital.

It sounds simple enough, but the challenges facing the Georgia Tech team stem from what has been termed "coordinative cooperative flight controls." This term means you have multiple drones that not only need to control themselves autonomously but also coordinate all of their movements with a number of other craft while avoiding a massive collision that could cause further injury.

And, unlike a package delivery application, an individual’s center of gravity will vary, so the drone’s positioning technology needs to understand how this could change the pick-up.

Solutions have come in the form of adaptive flight control algorithms and a specially designed docking device that should allow these drones to get a proper connection point. The team hopes to begin testing these new developments shortly.

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