Drones in Healthcare

Drones in Healthcare

As the pandemic is still a global public health challenge, many options are explored to slow down the spread of COVID-19. Contactless solutions such as drones for use in healthcare are currently deployed, specifically in disinfection, remote monitoring, and medicine delivery, some countries have also deployed drones for communication purposes.1 Here are some patents disclosing drones/unmanned aerial vehicles for use in different medical applications:

U.S. Patent No. 9,494,937

Method and system for drone deliveries to vehicles in route

In 2017, Verizon acquired Skyward, a drone company that caters to power drone programs in construction, industrial inspection, precision agriculture, and more. Combining Skyward’s drone operation management platform and Verizon’s network, an easier, faster, and more efficient commercial drone operations.2 Verizon’s patent discloses a drone delivery system to vehicles in route. One embodiment of the invention is for medical drones that may deliver crucial medicine or medical supplies to ambulances or medical helicopter in route.

Current Assignee: Verizon Patent and Licensing Inc.
Priority Date: 20 June 2014
Abstract: A system comprise a server configured to communicate vehicle information with a vehicle transceiver of a vehicle moving along a vehicle route and communicate drone information with a drone transceiver of a drone moving along a drone route. A computing device with a memory and a processor may be configured to communicatively connect with the server, process the vehicle information and the drone information, identify a plurality of pickup locations based in part on the vehicle information and drone information, select at least one of the plurality of pickup locations based in part on a priority score associated with a travel time to or wait time for each of the plurality of pickup locations, and update the drone route based in part on the selected pickup location.
Forward Citations: 362
Representative Figure

U.S. Patent No. 8,948,935

Providing a medical support device via an unmanned aerial vehicle

Google’s Wing Aviation launched its first commercial drone delivery in Oct 2019, ahead of its competitors Amazon and Uber. Wing is a spin-off company from Alphabet’s X division and early in 2019 it received Federal Aviation Administration approval to deliver small packages in select Virginia cities.3 Disclosed in one of Wing’s patents is an unmanned aerial vehicle that can navigate a medical situation and provide medical support.

Current Assignee: Wing Aviation LLC
Priority Date: 2 January 2013
Abstract: Embodiments described herein may relate to an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) navigating to a medical situation in order to provide medical support. An illustrative method involves a UAV (a) housing a medical-support device, (b) determining a target location associated with at least one individual in need of medical assistance, (c) navigating the UAV from a remote location to the target location, (d) the computing system making a determination that the UAV is located at the target location, and (e) in response to the determination that the UAV is located at the target location, delivering by a delivery mechanism the medical-support device for providing medical assistance for the at least one individual in need of medical assistance.
Forward Citations: 184
Representative Figure

U.S. Patent No. 10,511,950

Method and system for an emergency location information service (E-LIS) for Internet of Things (IoT) devices

RedSky Technologies is an emergency solutions company which aims to breach gaps in the 9-1-1 system. Their products include software systems for tracking location, routing calls, and emergency notifications.4 In one of their patents, a drone is used to locate a mobile device to provide accurate location to emergency responders.

Current Assignee: RedSky Technologies Inc
Priority Date: 16 May 2006
Abstract: A method and system for determining and verifying a location of network devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). The method and system provide a current physical geographic location for such IoT network devices and/or a user of the IoT network device in an emergency situation such as an accident, health, fitness, fire, terrorist attack, military incident, weather, flood event, etc. and forwarding the current physical geographic location to a legacy 911 network, NG-911 network, a Emergency Services IP networks (ESInet) or text-to-911 Short Message Services (SMS) networks to alert emergency responders.
Forward Citations: 45

U.S. Patent No. 9,963,230

Aerial drone cleaning device and method of cleaning a target surface therewith

Procter and Gamble, an American multinational company, started out as a soap and candle company. Currently, they have an array of products including brands for family, fabric, and home care.5 In one of P&G’s patent, an aerial drone is disclosed and may dispose a cleaning sheet, a duster, and dispense/spray cleaning agents on a surface.

Current Assignee: Procter and Gamble Co.
Priority Date: 11 January 2016
Abstract: A drone which can be piloted by a user. The drone has at least one or both of a depending head and an outwardly extending elongate handle. A cleaning sheet may be removably disposed on the head, to clean a target surface, such as a floor or countertop. A duster may be removably disposed on the handle, to clean a target surface, such as an elevated surface or clean personal items.
Forward Citations: 26
Representative Figure

U.S. Patent No. 9,863,776

Ambulatory route management based on a personal drone

IBM’s Watson AI, their robot who won Jeopardy versus humans in 2013, was repurposed to be a COVID-19 chatbot to aid the government and healthcare institutions to answer questions and provide accurate information.6 Aside from Watson, one of IBM’s inventions that can help during this pandemic is an ambulatory route management based on a personal drone. Disclosed in the patent is a way to determine the safest and fastest route to an emergency situation.

Current Assignee: International Business Machines Corp.
Priority Date: 14 July 2015
Abstract: Embodiments include method, systems and computer program products for route planning and management with a drone. Aspects include receiving a destination for an individual and determining multiple routes between a position of the individual and the destination. Aspects further include deploying the drone to determine safety and accessibility risks associated with the multiple routes and determining a preferred route from the multiple routes based on the safety and accessibility risks associated with the multiple routes.
Forward Citations: 13
Representative Figure


    1. T. Cozzens, “Pandemic drones to monitor, detect those with COVID-19,” GPS World, 26 March 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.gpsworld.com/draganfly-camera-and-uav-expertise-to-help-diagnose-coronavirus/. [Accessed 1 April 2020].
    2. Skyward, “Verizon Acquires Skyward,” 2017. [Online]. Available: https://skyward.io/verizon-acquires-skyward-to-simplify-drone-operations-and-reduce-complexity-for-businesses/. [Accessed 6 April 2020].
    3. J. Elias, “Alphabet’s Wing launches first commercial drone delivery,” CNBC, 18 October 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/18/alphabets-wing-launches-first-commercial-drone-delivery.html. [Accessed 1 April 2020].
    4. RedSky, “What is E911? | RedSky Technologies | The Leading Provider of E911 Services and Compliance,” RedSky Technologies, [Online]. Available: https://www.redskye911.com/what-is-e911. [Accessed 6 April 2020].
    5. P&G, “About Us,” [Online]. Available: https://www.pgcareers.com/about-us. [Accessed 6 April 2020].
    6. L. Dormehl, “IBM turned its Jeopardy-winning A.I. into the world’s smartest COVID-19 chatbot,” Digital Trends, 3 April 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/ibm-watson-covid-19-chatbot/. [Accessed 6 April 2020].
    7. Insitu, A Boeing Company, “Success Stories,” [Online]. Available: https://www.insitu.com/success-stories. [Accessed 6 April 2020].


Angela Marie Leron
Angela Marie Leron