In the future, drone taxis may deliver manufactured organs to hospitals

eHang 184, most expensive drones
Earlier this year, Chinese UAV company Ehang unveiled their 184 drone, the world’s first autonomous flying taxi designed to transport people from one location to another. Today, biotech leader United Therapeutics announced it was partnering with Ehang to adapt the 184 drone for the transportation of organs instead of passengers. This new system would be called MOTH, short for Manufactured Organ Transport Helicopter system (MOTH). The proposed organ taxi plan is ambitious, but if Lung Biotechnology can pull it off, it has the potential to change the organ donor market in the US.

Lung Biotechnology, a subsidiary of United Therapeutics, is known for its lung manufacturing technology, which it developed to help patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension and other end-stage lung diseases. The list of critically ill patients requiring a lung transplant to live is very long, while the supply of available organs from donors is extremely scarce. To help meet this need, Lung Biotechnology has developed methods of creating lungs and other organs using stem cells and xenotransplantation techniques.

To get its manufactured organs to patients, Lung Biotechnology wants to use Ehang’s 184 drones. The company hopes to station these MOTH rotorcraft at its manufacturing facilities, making them available for the immediate transport of recently produced biomaterial. Once loaded with the organ samples, each drone can be preprogrammed to fly to a nearby hospital that can use the organ for transplant. This fast and efficient transport is essential as it allows Lung Biotchnology to provide hospitals with viable organs precisely when they are needed. “We anticipate delivering hundreds of organs a day, which means that the MOTH system will help save not only tens of thousands of lives but also many millions of gallons of aviation transport gasoline annually,” said Lung Biotechnology Chairman and CEO Martine Rothblatt, Ph.D.

Lung Biotechnology is optimistic that the company will receive the necessary permissions to begin its MOTH operation. These certifications include the approval of the MOTH rotorcraft by the Federal Aviation Administration and approval of the company’s xenotransplantation organ products by the Food and Drug Administration.

Emerging Tech

Climeworks wants to clean the atmosphere with a fleet of truck-sized vacuums

Using machines that resemble jet engines, Climeworks wants to fight climate change by extracting CO2 from thin air. The gas can then be sold to carbonated drink and agriculture companies, or sequestered underground.

Tesla is showing investors its autonomous tech; here’s how to watch it live

Tesla made several bold claims about its autonomous driving technology in recent months. The company will finally show the world what it developed when it organizes the first Autonomy Investor Day at its California headquarters.
Emerging Tech

Inside the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious plan to rid the ocean of plastic waste

In 2013, Boyan Slat crowdfunded $2.2 million to fund the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that builds big, floating trash collectors and sets them out to sea, where they’re designed to autonomously gobble up garbage.
Emerging Tech

Scientists manage to 3D print an actual heart using human cells

Scientists at Tel Aviv University have achieved a world-first by 3D printing a small-scale heart, complete with blood vessels, ventricles, and chambers. Here's why that's so exciting.
Emerging Tech

Happy birthday, Hubble! Telescope celebrates with image of Southern Crab Nebula

In 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into low Earth orbit, where it has remained for nearly three decades collecting information about deep space. To celebrate its birthday, Hubble imaged the beautiful Southern Crab Nebula.
Emerging Tech

Star gives off superflare equal to 80 billion megatonnes of TNT. That’s a lot

A tiny star the size of Jupiter has been observed giving off a massive superflare 10 times more powerful than any flare from our Sun. The findings are raising questions about how much energy small stars can hold.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

SpaceX experiences problem during test, Crew Dragon capsule may have exploded

SpaceX has experienced a problem during the testing of its Crew Dragon capsule. During the engine test firing at Cape Canaveral yesterday afternoon, an unspecified anomaly occurred which lead to plumes of smoke rising from the test site.
Emerging Tech

Beresheet crash caused by manual command, but reflector device may have survived

Details are emerging about what may have gone wrong with spacecraft Beresheet's failed moon landing. A manual command was entered which led to a chain reaction. But NASA still hopes to salvage use of its Laser Retroreflector Array device.
Emerging Tech

The oldest type of molecule in the universe has been located at last

A milestone in the development of the early universe was the combination of helium and hydrogen atoms into a molecule called helium hydride. But strangely enough, this ancient molecule has never been detected in space before now.
Emerging Tech

Mercury’s wobble as it spins reveals that it has an inner solid core

Scientists have long wondered what the inside of Mercury looks like, and they now have strong evidence that the planet has a large and solid metallic core. The data for the new findings was collected by the now-defunct MESSENGER mission.
Emerging Tech

Gravitational forces at heart of Milky Way shaped this star cluster like a comet

Hubble has captured the stunning Messier 62 cluster. The cluster is warped, with a long tail which stretches out to form a shape like a comet. It is thought this distortion is due to Messier 62's proximity to the center of the galaxy.
Emerging Tech

The grid of the future will be powered by … giant subterranean bagpipes?

In order to transition to a more renewable-focused energy system, we need to scale up our grid storage capacity --- and our existing methods aren't going to cut it. Could compressed air be the key?
Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?