Defense

DOD seeks battlefield blood delivery drones

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Battlefield drones typically deliver weapons or spy out enemy positions. Now the U.S. military is looking for ideas on how to deliver blood and medical products to remote locations to treat wounded troops on the spot.

The specs of the solicitation from the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental -- the ability to deliver a 5-pound package over 100 kilometers in "austere environments" -- strongly suggest that they're looking at an unmanned aerial vehicle system that supports refrigeration or other means of temperature control.

"These deliveries, ideally automated, will provide essential items to critically wounded military personnel as quickly as possible after an injury occurs," the April 23 solicitation states. "Ability to sustain a very high frequency of operations over an extended period of time is critical. Speed of delivery, reliability and robustness to failure and interference, response time, and overall delivery throughput are critical."

Similar efforts are underway elsewhere in the Department of Defense. The Marine Corps' Next Generation Logistics branch and DOD’s Rapid Reaction Technology Office, for example, recently tested the Hive Final Mile project, which aims to resupply troops on the battlefield via drone. That system involves a mobile application for placing orders, an automated drone launcher, software for determining what drone to fly and managing flight paths, and a cloud storage component for keeping track of all the flights and orders.

DIUx is looking for solutions from vendors by May 1, with an eye to fielding a system within two to three months.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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