The trial was run by the United Nations’ World Food Program and the UK Institute of Search and Technical Rescue and included teams from Mozambique, the UK, Canada, South Africa and Portugal. The experiment – the largest of its kind – involved a variety of aerial drones all hunting for targets on land and in water, ranging from wounded people and destroyed routes, to other natural threats like crocodiles near flooded areas. To help rescue teams gain an accurate overview of what the drones were seeing, the team collated data from satellites as well.
A team from the University of Portsmouth in the UK was deployed to the trial. Toby Meredith, from the university’s faculty of creative and cultural industries, provided support for the drone experiment and the onsite World Food Programme media communications office. He said: “Due to the size of the experiment, the logistics of deploying multiple drones was very complex. The university team played a key role in the drone deployment and processing of the ensuing aerial photos, for over 30 drone flights.”