Nick Swisher | December 3, 2018
A class project in Computer Science at the University of Notre Dame is going beyond the classroom as a prospective new student startup company. The project, now called DeLive, is designed to deliver defibrillators by drone to emergencies so bystanders can save lives before rescue workers arrive.
Notre Dame undergraduates Zachary Kousens and Nathaniel Hanson pursued creating a company from their project when they saw the interest of the South Bend Fire Department and EMS professionals at a demonstration of the work they did for Jane Cleland-Huang, professor of software engineering at Notre Dame and a drone researcher who became their mentor.
“The idea is when someone has sudden cardiac arrest and a bystander calls 911 and an EMT responds, help typically takes 10 minutes to get to the scene,” Hanson said. “We can get an automatic defibrillator there within two minutes using a drone,” dispatched by the 911 operator who finds a landing site using Google maps. This, says Kousens and Hanson, should boost the survival chance of those in cardiac arrest from 10 percent to 40 percent.
Kousens, a senior and a computer science major, and Hanson, a senior and a computer engineering major, have been friends since their freshman year and chose to take Cleland-Huang’s class together as juniors. She proposed the project to the class because she knew South Bend’s fire and rescue workers were seeking drone-based solutions to medical equipment delivery.
“Nathaniel and I started out in this class together, software engineering for unmanned aerial systems,” Kousens said. “We were learning how to write simple programs that could be used to fly quadcopters around. When it came time to choose a final project, this was an idea that interested both of us. The professor had been working with the South Bend Fire Department on river rescue system using drones for people who fall in the St. Joseph River.”
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