It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s… an Automated Flying Ambulance? Inspiration and Our Innovator Awards | Mark Hagland | Healthcare Blogs Skip to content Skip to navigation

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s… an Automated Flying Ambulance? Inspiration and Our Innovator Awards

December 3, 2016
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The deadline for submissions to our Innovator Awards Program is this week—time to submit!

Amazing things are happening every day in the worlds of science and technology. To take just one example, on December 2, LiveScience online published an article under the headline, “Flying Robotic Ambulance Completes First Solo Test Flight.” Jesse Empsak, a Live Science contributor, wrote this:

“A new automated, flying ambulance completed its first solo flight, offering a potential solution for challenging search and rescue missions. Completing such missions in rough terrain or combat zones can be tricky, with helicopters currently offering the best transportation option in most cases. But these vehicles need clear areas to land, and in the case of war zones, helicopters tend to attract enemy fire. Earlier this month, Israeli company Urban Aeronautics completed a test flight for a robotic flying vehicle that could one day go where helicopters can't.”

As Empsak wrote, “On Nov. 14, the company flew its robotic flyer, dubbed the Cormorant, on the craft's first solo flight over real terrain. The autonomous vehicle is designed to eventually carry people or equipment (as reflected in its former name, the AirMule) without a human pilot on board. Urban Aeronautics said the test was ‘a significant achievement for a student pilot, human or nonhuman,’ and said the company is ‘proud’ of the vehicle's performance.”

Urban Aeronautics' new Cormorant ambulance

Empsak went on to write, “The Cormorant uses ducted fans rather than propellers or rotors to fly. These fans are effectively shielded rotors, which means the aircraft doesn't need to worry about bumping into a wall and damaging the rotors. Another set of fans propels the vehicle forward, according to Urban Aeronautics. The robotic flyer pilots itself entirely through laser altimeters, radar and sensors. The system is "smart" enough to self-correct when it makes mistakes, company officials said. In a video released by Urban Aeronautics, the Cormorant tries to land, stops itself and then corrects its landing position.” It is, as the reporter noted, “effectively a decision-making system that can figure out what to do if the inputs from the sensors are off in some way.” In other words, it is a self-guided non-rotor helicopter that could potentially rescue people and equipment in battle zones, or in physical spaces tremendously dangerous to human rescuers, such as massive forest fires or areas of volcanic activity.

The development of the Cormorant is yet another sign that we are in a golden age of scientific and technological development. And, truthfully, we are entering a period of renaissance in terms of innovation in healthcare delivery, as the “Mother of Invention” that is necessity—straitened circumstances because of exploding healthcare costs in the U.S., and subsequent payment cuts and curbs—is compelling innovation forward—certainly in the U.S.

Indeed, what we at Healthcare Informatics are seeing is a flourishing of new approaches to care delivery that are leveraging healthcare IT to optimize population health management, care management, clinician workflow, and administrative processes, among other elements, across hospitals, medical groups, and health systems. And it is in that context that we at the magazine have spent a decade now honoring those at the forefront of healthcare IT, through our Healthcare Informatics Innovator Awards Program. Our program recognizes leadership teams from patient care organizations—hospitals, medical groups, integrated health systems, and other healthcare organizations—that have effectively deployed information technology in order to improve clinical, administrative, financial, or organizational performance. The Program also distinguishes vendor solution providers that have helped their clients shine in enhancing clinician workflow, exchanging data, or cutting down costs.

Are you and your colleagues creating innovation in your organizations? The innovation involved can be of any kind that has moved your organization forward, along clinical, operational, financial, or organizational lines; and that benefits your community in some concrete way. But you need to act quickly: our deadline is in just two days. Please click on this link and submit today! Winners will be recognized via coverage in our January issue, a special recognition event during the HIMSS Conference in February, and potential speaking engagements as part of our Healthcare Informatics Health IT Summit Series.

We also have a separate program for vendors. Simply follow the link to the vendor innovators program.

We are proud of our program, and of its ability to recognize innovation in healthcare. Who knows? You and your colleagues may have developed the healthcare equivalent of the Cormorant. If so, you deserve the recognition our program offers. Please make sure to send us your submission today—and, good luck to all entrants!