UAS delivers kidney for organ transplant

Departments - Up and Soaring

AiRXOS completes UAS traffic management program; Electric UAS crosses Black Rock Desert.

September 26, 2019

A University of Maryland (UMD) unmanned aircraft delivered a donor kidney to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) in Baltimore, Maryland, resulting in a successful transplantation for a patient with kidney failure. This demonstration illustrates the potential of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for faster, safer, and more widely available organ deliveries.

The flight was a collaboration between aviation and engineering experts at the University of Maryland’s Department of Aerospace Engineering and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Test Site; transplant physicians and researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) in Baltimore; and collaborators at the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland.

During flight, an apparatus monitored the viable human organ, measuring and maintaining temperature, barometric pressure, altitude, vibration, and location during transportation. It transmitted the information to the transplant team’s smartphones via a wireless mesh network. A custom-built 8-rotor UAS had dual batteries; backup propellers, motors, and power distribution board; and a parachute in case the aircraft failed.

Members of the Maryland team, left to right: Norman Wereley, Ph.D., Minta Martin Professor and Chair, Department of Aerospace Engineering, A. James Clark School of Engineering; Joseph Scalea, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, University of Maryland School of Medicine; Thomas Scalea, MD, The Honorable Francis X. Kelly Distinguished Professor in Trauma Surgery, University of Maryland School of Medicine; and Matthew Scassero, MPA, Director, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Test Site, A. James Clark School of Engineering.

AiRXOS completes UAS traffic management program

GE Aviation subsidiary AiRXOS has concluded real-world flight operations for the first phase of the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) traffic management pilot program (UPP). Established in 2017, UPP aims to identify industry and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) capabilities necessary for UAS traffic management (UTM).

AiRXOS has participated at several FAA UAS test sites for the UPP, supporting internal and external flight operators while demonstrating live UTM operations through its Air Mobility platform.

FAA-approved UAS Test Sites for UPP include the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS); Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS); and Virginia Tech, Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP).

The FAA awarded UPP contracts to the three test site partners to evaluate and mature UTM technologies, including flight planning, communications, aircraft separation, and weather services for drones operating below 400ft.

“The FAA’s UPP program is critical to helping determine the UTM services and capabilities required for the new drone economy,” says AiRXOS CEO Kenneth Stewart. “Enterprise-level interoperability between systems is fundamental, as are advanced operations and the integration of notifications.”

AiRXOS is an approved FAA-Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) provider, supporting auto-approval and future coordination for Part 107 commercial UAS operation.

Electric UAS crosses Black Rock Desert

Santa Clara, California-based Impossible Aerospace’s battery powered US-1 all- electric quadcopter UAS crossed the northern Nevada desert without recharging in repeated 72-minute flights.

The unmodified production US-1 carried a FLIR Duo Pro R camera and HD video transmitter. With and against the prevailing winds, the US-1 flew 29 miles and 21 miles respectively.

The flight was planned to avoid operations over people and protected wilderness areas and conducted with the pilot maintaining visual line of sight to the aircraft as a passenger of a moving vehicle.