Disaster relief inventions win big at James Dyson Awards

15 Nov 2023

Image: James Dyson Awards

A hands-free IV device that helps medics during disasters and an innovative ambulance design are among the winners of this year’s James Dyson Awards.

An ingenious off-road ambulance that can attach itself to any vehicle has been awarded a James Dyson award for the best humanitarian entry after the creator was inspired to design something to help during the conflict in Ukraine.

Piotr Tłuszcz created the Life Chariot, a light ambulance that is safer for a casualty to travel in than the boot of a car, to help medical evacuation teams in challenging terrains.

Two initial builds of the invention have been given to the Ukrainian Medical Military Unity and the Polish Voluntary Medic Unit of the Damian Duda Foundation after being tested in a range of terrains, from trails and forests to caves and even mines.

“This year the James Dyson Award gives a special humanitarian prize to Piotr, who has designed an ingenious way of recovering injured people from challenging terrain,” said engineer and inventor James Dyson, after whom the annual design award is named.

“The Life Chariot can be towed by anything – allowing medics to do their life-saving work with the resources they have at hand. It’s also brilliant to see his iterative design process continue in response to feedback from those using it on the ground.”

Tłuszcz has received €34,000 along with two other winners for the inventions. The international award was bagged by Yujin Chae, Daeyeon Kim, Yeonghwan Shin and Yuan Bai for their invention of the Golden Capsule, a hands-free intravenous (IV) device for medics.

A person holding the Golden Capsule IV device in their hands.

The Golden Capsule, a hands-free intravenous (IV) device for medics. Image: James Dyson Awards

Inspired by the harsh environments faced by medics during the Turkish-Syrian earthquakes, the device uses elastic forces and air pressure differences rather than gravity to work, so that medics in disaster zones do not have to hold up IV packs while transporting patients.

Meanwhile, the sustainability award went to Hoi Fung Ronaldo Chan and Can Jovial Xiao for their invention of E-Coating, a device created from recycled glass which can be applied to exterior roofs and walls to reflect the sun’s rays to reduce a building’s heat absorption.

There were two Irish inventions vying for the top spot at the James Dyson awards this year: Oasis, created by Joel Olympio of the University of Limerick and ErgoTech, created by George Clarke of TU Dublin.

Oasis is a wearable device that helps people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to focus on the task at hand, while ErgoTech develops ergonomic laparoscopy tools to improve surgeons’ comfort and reduce wrist strain while performing surgery.

Last year’s Irish leg of the James Dyson Award was won by Méadú, a wooden board to help older primary school students overcome maths anxiety by making lessons more interactive. Previous Irish winners include designs for an ‘everlasting shoe’ and a repeat-use medical kit.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic