The Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems (AUVSI) selected Near Earth Autonomy as an Xcellence in Mission – Humanitarian Award Finalist on April 7th out of a pool of 100 candidates.

The AUVSI Xcellence Awards were held in Pittsburgh, PA to honor individuals and organizations that are innovators in the uncrewed systems industry, with a demonstrated commitment to advancing autonomy, leading and promoting safe adoption of uncrewed systems, and developing programs that use these technologies to save lives and improve the human condition.  

Near Earth develops technology enabling uncrewed aircraft across of various scales to autonomously take off, fly, and land, without requiring GPS. Near Earth partnered with L3Harris to develop a safe and efficient method for autonomous just-in-time, long distance, precise delivery of blood and critical medical supplies to warfighters in contested, unprepared, maritime, and confined environments. 

Near Earth integrated their autonomy technology with the L3Harris FVR-90 fixed-wing, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) gas-electric hybrid aircraft designed for long endurance flight (12-18 hours), and temperature-regulated blood transportation containers. In test and demonstration events, Near Earth’s system guided aircraft from take-off to hazard avoidance and safe delivery at the point of need. Over 30 autonomous land-based deliveries and 10 ship deck landings have been successfully  completed to date.  

“I’m confident that Near Earth Autonomy’s autonomous blood delivery work will positively impact how we support forward care providers in future military and civilian  settings,” said Nathan Fisher, Division Chief of Medical Robotics and Autonomous Systems at the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center. “This technology provides a lifeline in austere settings, sustaining life in the critical window between injury and when more advanced care is available.”  

Why it’s important: AUVSI’s recognition of Near Earth Autonomy’s work in the humanitarian space highlights some potential future use cases for the aerial mobility industry, as work is already underway on logistical supporting roles within the medical industry. In the future, air ambulances could also be eVTOL aircraft that feature quicker dispatch times and even possibly reduced crew requirements to increase efficiency of response in the most crucial of medical emergency or evacuation scenarios.

Posted by Naish Gaubatz