ARLINGTON, Va. — Drone Optimized Therapy System (DrOTS) has been named a winner in the XCELLENCE Awards by the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International (AUVSI).The DrOTS project was selected from a pool of accomplished applicants as one of six winners for the Humanitarian and Public Safety Awards, sponsored by DJI for the third consecutive year. Winners were announced during the keynote session on Thursday, October 8 during AUVSI XPONENTIAL.
“The Humanitarian and Public Safety Awards demonstrate the profound ability of the recipients to positively impact lives through unmanned systems technology and create tremendous good will for our industry” said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI. "We proudly recognize the six winners and hope their accomplishments will serve as an inspiration to utilize UAS to accomplish remarkable achievements for our society, which during a global pandemic is needed now more than ever.”
The DrOTS project aims to improve the accessibility of TB diagnostic tests by linking community health workers (CHWs) with state-of-the-art diagnostic tools (GeneXpert) via Drones. Under this system, the drone collects sputum samples from remote healthcare facilities and delivers them directly to the central hospital or lab. Healthcare personnel at the hospital then test the sputum sample using the GeneXpert diagnostic tool.The purpose of this project is to assist the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) Nepal and the National Tuberculosis Center by generating the data necessary to assess the suitability of the approach for nationwide expansion.
The project team consists of multisector experts: Public Health- Birat Nepal Medical Trust (BNMT), Drones & Technology - WeRobotics, Nepal Flying Labs & DroNepal, Research- The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Government stakeholders: Ministry of Health and Population Nepal, the National TB Center and the District Public Health Office (DPHO Pyuthan) and is supported by Stony Brook University, Nick Simons Institute , Nepal.
This year’s AUVSI XCELLENCE Award winners highlight the most inspiring ways drone technology has been used over the past year to aid people, animals and the environment,” said Wayne Baker, Director of Public Safety Integration at DJI. “Behind each winner is a dedicated team of professionals whose creativity, ingenuity and perseverance serves as an inspiration to the entire AUVSI community. We applaud them for their outstanding commitment to innovation, as well as creation of standards, and are pleased to see these awards highlight the positive role drone technology plays all over the world.”
The AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards honor innovators with a demonstrated commitment to advancing autonomy, leading and promoting safe adoption of unmanned systems and developing programs that use these technologies to save lives and improve the human condition.
In rural Nepal, the biggest challenge for healthcare delivery is the lack of an effective transport infrastructure. Healthcare workers or patients often walk for many hours to reach services and essential supplies are often out of stock.
DrOTS Nepal is designed for the early and rapid diagnosis of new TB cases in Pyuthan through the utilization of drones and smart pillboxes, called MERMS (Medication Event Reminder-Monitors), to support overcoming the access barrier in remote geographically isolated areas and improve treatment adherence/patient compliance.
A network of locally hired female community health volunteers use the drones to transport the sputum samples of people with TB symptoms to laboratories or GeneXpert testing hubs. If the samples are positive, patients are enrolled in DOTS treatment using smart pill boxes that remind the patient to take the drugs every day, and keep electronic records of each dose taken, reviewed by a health care worker.