In 2018, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) headquartered in Montreal, Canada, founded the non-profit organization called Ambular. The goal of Ambular is to develop an open source electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) emergency medical response (EMS) aircraft for urban environments, so that for-profit companies can use the ICAO's research to successfully design and manufacturer eVTOL aircraft for very safe EMS operations.
Ambular's goal is to not only to increase the response time for medical emergencies but to reduce the potential collisions that do happen when ambulances travel fast through traffic. Using an autonomous eVTOL aircraft with sense and avoid technology (which would include avoiding a flock of birds) will increase the response time for critical medical care and make the trip many times safer for the passenger and everyone else on the ground. In addition, Ambular has the goal of also making an open source eVTOL drone with the purpose of delivering emergency medicine and medical supplies to patients who need them.
EHang is Ambular's first hardware partner providing rotors and electric motors and possibly other hardware, for use in designing their open source eVTOL EMS aircraft. Ambular is an all volunteer organization and the non-profit organization will be not be manufacturing any commercial products.
Some key goals of Ambular:
- Make an open source eVTOL for any for-profit companies for free, to use to help design their EMS eVTOL aircraft and allowing the design to be modified by companies as they see fit, as long as they comply with the entire Ambular Creed
- Make the eVTOL aircraft affordable so that anyone can be transported in it
- Make safety a top priority. Example, a goal is to reduce complexity which increases safety.
- Make the aircraft environmentally friendly, to be carbon neutral
- Provide data stewardship and not allowing personal data to be collective for for-profit use but only for private medical use
- Make the aircraft socially responsible by complying with the Hippocratic Oath and the Archimedean Oath
- The aircraft will be designed so it can be maintained in any city in the world
- Make the eVTOL aircraft modular, so the aircraft can easily use interchangeable parts
- Make the aircraft design flexible enough that it can be used for multiple rescue type missions such as EMS, natural disasters, fires and other scenarios where lives are at stake
The Ambular Pod is a two-part modular aircraft. The eVTOL aircraft is a stand-alone aircraft and can fly with or without the patient pod. The eVTOL portion attaches or detaches itself to the top of the completely separate patient pod. The patient pod is a windowless free standing pod with its own landing gear that can be stored in any building or vehicle (such as ships) and comfortably holds one patient with room for medical apparatus inside the pod.
In a pandemic or if the patient has any other contagious disease, this would allow the movement of the patient to a hospital without endangering any emergency crew during flight. This pod would also work for any type of medical emergency, as well. The advantage of a modular system is that pods could be stored in buildings or ships so that in the event of an emergency, a local doctor or paramedic can prepare the patient for traveling while waiting for the eVTOL aircraft to move the pod to a hospital.
As of the fall of 2020, Ambular has designed a total of five drone and passenger eVTOL aircraft: Ambular, Ambular Drone, Ambular Pod, Ambular 2.0 and Ambular 3.0. The organization is using computational fluid dynamics and a wind tunnel to validate their open source eVTOL aircraft. The organization plans to have a ¼-scale prototype to be ready to fly in the next four to five years. The organization has not decided if it will be building a full scale prototype.
Ambular is looking for individual volunteers, corporations and institutions to help achieve their goals, in the form of workers, providing resources and providing funding.
- Aircraft type: EMS modular patient pod and attachable/detachable eVTOL aircraft
- Piloting: Autonomous or remote piloting
- Patient Pod capacity: 1 patient
- Patient Pod windows: No windows for passenger
- Patient Pod landing gear: Four fixed legs
- eVTOL aircraft cruise speed: Unknown
- eVTOL aircraft range: Unknown
- eVTOL aircraft propellers: 8 propellers
- eVTOL aircraft motors: 8 electric motors
- eVTOL aircraft power source: Batteries
- eVTOL aircraft power landing gear: Unknown
- eVTOL aircraft safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers and motors on the aircraft so if one or more motors or propellers fail, the other working motors and propellers can safely land the aircraft.
- Ambular website
- International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) website
- Ambular Facebook
- Ambular YouTube Channel
- Ambular Instagram
- Ambular LinkedIn
- Article: Ambular uses the sky to provide swift medical emergency response in crowded cities, Yanko Design, June 4, 2017
- Video: Ambular, Ambular, Nov. 15, 2019
- Article: The Ambular project: an ICAO supported initiative, Uniting Aviation, April 7, 2020
- Video: Ambular Presentation, Ambular, April 8, 2020
- Article: Concordia engineers help develop an emergency response drone, Concordia, April 14, 2020
- Video on Facebook: 4TH SPACE Concordia University-discusses Ambular Drone, Concordia on Facebook, April 16, 2020
- Video: Ambular: The case for a different way to connect with the future, We Are FINN, July 21, 2020
- Article: EHang joins Ambular project to develop an eVTOL air ambulance, eVTOL, Aug. 21, 2020
- Article: EHang Joins ICAO’s Ambular Project As First Hardware Partner, Aviation Today, Aug. 24, 2020