If EHang’s vision for personal pilotless aircraft wasn’t quite wild enough for you, then get a load of the drone-maker’s latest idea. After wowing CES attendees with a prototype of a single-passenger drone this year, the Chinese company has now teamed up with a biotechnology firm to adapt the vehicle for emergency organ transplant deliveries.
The idea of using drones to deliver urgent medical supplies has rightly garnered quite a bit of interest. Maryland-based public benefit corporation (PBC) Lung Biotechnology sees the potential. The partnership will see the pair work together over the next 15 years to build a modified EHang 184 for the purpose of carrying out automated organ deliveries.
They are calling the program the Manufactured Organ Transport Helicopter (MOTH) system and it will involve the purchase of up to 1,000 vehicles. These would be stationed outside Lung Biotechnology’s manufacturing facilities, waiting to transport freshly produced organs along preprogrammed flight paths to hospitals in the area.
Neither of the required technologies for this initiative have been proven (FAA and FDA), and that’s to say nothing of the lengthy regulatory approval process before they are eventually declared safe for use. But on the other hand, drone deliveries and artificial organs are problems that legions of very smart people are working on all around the world. So the idea that they one day become a reality somewhere, and then combine to save many thousands of lives, is perhaps not so far-fetched.
I always enjoy a BHAG – a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. And this certainly qualifies by any standard. To be sure there is a long way to go on both fronts – I think that the easy guess is that the EHang/FAA side of the deal will come to fruition long before the FDA approves manufactured organ transplants, but who knows for sure. Meanwhile it’s good PR for both companies.