The Prince Alvaro de Orleans-Borbon Grant for $20,000 has been awarded to Vincenzo Navanteri at the 2nd annual FAI International Drone Conference and Expo in Switzerland. Navanteri proposed the idea of a self-piloting drone ambulance that could carry an injured passenger at speeds of 110 km/h for about 93 miles. This aligned with theme of this year’s award, “Drones for Humanity.”
The drone would be capable of reaching altitudes of over 3,000 feet and can carry up to 265 lb. The drone would consist of eight electric-driven propellers and batteries powered by two gas-driven micro-turbines. This would allow it to have its own high-speed generator and independent gas storage.
Once GPS coordinates were set to a destination, the drone would autonomously transport the passenger to the set location with oxygen supply and equipment. The passenger could also be monitored by human doctors via onboard cameras and a communication system.
“The drone is intended mainly for rescue and first-aid missions,” says Navanteri, according to New Atlas. ”Anywhere affected by any type of disaster – earthquakes, floods, even nuclear contamination zones.”
The ambulance drone would keep in mind non-pilot staff, so doctors and first-responders could use the drone with little to no training. Additionally, the drone could be used to transport medical supplies.
“The core of our business is the turbine that creates the electricity to power the drone. So I am happy, because it means people actually understand that our technology will help move drones forward, away from simple 20-minute battery-life,” says Navanteri. “I didn’t expect to win this award. I have never entered this type of competition – I was lucky and we won!”