Turning Point in Medical Care on Battlefield

medical evacuation from battlefield

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Medical care on the battlefield is taking a new turn. The US Army is looking to autonomous vehicles, including unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), to support its medevac mission. A request for information posted by the Army Medical Research and Development Command said the command was interested in “resupply, evacuation, prolonged field care, and transition and transfer through to military treatment facilities,” e.g. “navigation assistants that can dynamically combine terrain data, combat environment data, injury data, etc, to plan optimal routes, equipment and contingencies for evacuation missions”.

The service says it is considering various types of autonomous vehicles, including UAVs, unmanned ground vehicles, unmanned boats, unmanned submarines and unmanned amphibious vehicles. The US Army also wants autonomous systems capable of helping with medical treatment of injured soldiers, including analytical and decision support tools, it says.

The US Army is looking at all levels of autonomy including fully autonomous vehicles. It also wants to hear about combined systems, such as manned-unmanned teaming systems where a vehicle could be directed to carry out a task by a human or is able to follow a lead vehicle piloted by a human.

According to flightglobal.com, helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky is working on an autonomous flight control system called Matrix which it aims to retrofit into any variant of the UH-60 Black Hawk. Retrofitted “optionally piloted” Black Hawks could be flown by a pilot, autonomously or in blended fashion, for instance, where the aircraft’s flight control system autonomously flies a route, which could be adjusted ad hoc by the air crew. The US Army uses a version of the UH-60M, the HH-60M, that is retrofitted with medical evacuation equipment and could be upgraded with the still in-development Matrix system.