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Pittsburgh-Based Researchers Developing Emergency Medicine AI

Carnegie Mellon University
Artist's rendering of TRACIR, an emergency medicine body wrap that uses artificial intelligence.


University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University researchers are developing emergency medicine technology for the U.S. military that uses artificial intelligence.

Trauma Care In a Rucksack, or TRACIR, is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. The departments wants the Pittsburgh-based team to create an autonomous robot for emergency medicine that’s small enough to fit inside a backpack and be carried by a drone. That way, when a soldier is injured on the battlefield, they can call the drone to them and then pull out the backpack.

“The backpack has a sensorized body wrap that they lay on top of the casualty,” explained principal researcher Dr. Ronald Poropatich, the director of Pitt’s Center for Military Research and a retired Colonel in the U.S. Army.

Poropatich said the body wrap will use AI to determine how the person is injured, and then robotically perform critical care interventions. Those might include putting a needle in the injured person’s chest to decompress a collapsed lung; or running a needle up the groin to run a catheter to the aorta, to inflate a balloon to prevent liver and spleen bleeding.

“When we look at the preventable deaths of the battlefield now,” said Poropatich, “most of them are non-compressible torso hemorrhage. Someone got blown up, [and] their liver or spleen is lacerated.”

Poropatich said by being able to quickly stop the blood flow to injured areas, rescuers would have more time to evacuate causalities before it’s too late.

This technology would conceivably have applications beyond battlefields. Pretty much any area that has limited medical resources could benefit from TRACIR, including rural Pennsylvania or during NASA expeditions to other planets.

Though it might seem like science fiction, Poropatich said the hope is to have a field-ready prototype by 2028.

WESA receives funding from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.