Vincenzo Navanteri, the designer of a futuristic ‘drone ambulance’, has been awarded the Prince Alvaro de Orleans-Borbon grant, worth around $20,000 (£16,000).
Navanteri picked up the award at the 2nd FAI International Drones Conference and Expo held in Lausanne over the weekend.
The grant will go towards him and his team developing the idea of a self-piloting drone ambulance that could carry a single person for up to 150km at 68mph.
Navanteri said: “It is a pleasure to receive this grant, and to use it for development. As a company it is what we need. And, more than my own business, it will support the general development of this type of technology.”
He added: “The drone is intended mainly for rescue and first-aid missions like urgent interventions in remote villages, or where access is temporarily difficult for example.”
The power to drive the battery-driven propellers would come from two gas-driven micro-turbines, each with its own high-speed generator and independent gas storage.
Navanteri said: “This revolutionary bladeless and highly efficient micro-turbine technology is patented by us and is key to the long range of the drone.”
As well as the evacuation of people, the drone could be used to transport emergency equipment, medicines or even emergency food stuffs.
The Prince Alvaro de Orleans-Borbon grant is awarded each year to people or institutions involved in the creation or promotion of technical developments and innovation in sport aviation.