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Drones that fly medical equipment to patients is the next frontier

Stepanie Bennett, May 27, 2018 7:00PM The Courier-Mail

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Drones are being used by farmers to help muster cattle in Queensland. media_cameraDrones are being used by farmers to help muster cattle in Queensland.


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Life-saving drones could soon fly medicine, blood and even defibrillators* to where they are needed.

And they’re just some of the ways drone technology looks set to change lives very soon.

Drone expert and scientist Dr Catherine Ball was one of the key* speakers at Tuesday’s Telstra Vantage event in Brisbane. She said medical drones are the next frontier* for the technology.

Dr Ball last year founded* the World of Drones Congress, an international gathering of drone companies and users to share ideas.

Defibrillator drones are already being tested in Europe, showing the technology was quicker to respond* than traditional ways of getting help to a patient, such as road and air ambulances.

Defibrillator CPR practice media_cameraDrones could quickly fly defibrillators and other medical equipment to emergencies to save lives. Picture: supplied

Agriculture* is also leading the way, with farmers early adopters*, using them for everything from mustering* cattle to surveying* properties.

“Farmers, especially here in Australia, are some of the best innovators* that I’ve ever seen globally, maybe because innovation is often the daughter of adversity*,” Dr Ball said.

“The thing I’ve found is that when I go out to the communities, somebody is using a drone in a way that I hadn’t already thought of.”

Drones are being used by farmers to help muster cattle in Queensland. media_cameraDrones are being used by farmers to help muster cattle in Queensland. Picture: supplied

Telstra’s Andrew Wildblood said technology advances were changing modern farming practices. The eventual availability of 5G speeds – which is a faster mobile signal technology than current 3G and 4G – beginning next year, would further improve drone capabilities*.

“With new generations coming through, you find people do want to work the farm because you can combine the agricultural life with technology, and you can have a different way of life on the farm,” he said.

“Historically, you were very remote and you lived with that existence, now you can be incredibly connected.”


defibrillators: medical equipment for the heart

key: main

founded: started

respond: answer

agriculture: farming

adopters: start doing something

innovators: introduce new things

mustering: bringing animals in

surveying: measuring

adversity: difficulty

capabilities: powers of abilities


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1. What event did Dr Ball start last year? What is it?

2. What are they testing in Europe?

3. What are farmers using drones for?

4. What is faster than 3G?

5. Why are some people more attracted to working on a farm now?


What possible benefits and problems might there be of using drones to deliver emergency medical equipment?

Draw up a two-column chart. Label one column BENEFITS and list the benefits of using drone technology for these tasks. Label the second column PROBLEMS and list any possible problems you can think of.

For example:

Benefit – equipment arrives faster therefore saves lives

Problem – drones could be stolen

Can you find a solution to any of the problems? Draw a third column, labelled solutions. Write a solution to any of the problems you listed.

Extension: What other ways can drones be used to do something more efficiently than it is done now?

Write your suggestion of how to use drone technology in a short paragraph that includes why using drones for this task would be beneficial.

What would you need to know about drones to know if your idea would work? Write a list of questions that will help determine if it is possible.

For example: How much weight can a drone hold?

Time: Allow 20 minutes

Curriculum links: English, Technology – Digital technologies, Critical and Creative thinking


With a partner see if you can you identify all the doing words/verbs in this text. Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.

Try to replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.

Curriculum Links: English, Big Write and VCOP


Please do not use one-word answers. Explain what you enjoyed or found interesting about the article. Use lots of adjectives.

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