During disasters such as earthquakes or shipwrecks, every minute counts when it comes to finding survivors. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can reach more inaccessible areas than rescuers on land including Unmanned Ground Vehicles. Nowadays, UAVs can be equipped with technology to help situational awareness and support rescue teams when locating victims during disasters.
Survivors typically plead for help by producing impulsive sounds such as screams. Therefore, an accurate acoustic system mounted on a drone is currently being developed at Fraunhofer FKIE, focusing on finding potential victims.
Accurately locating missing people by sound
The system will be filtering environmental and UAV noise in order to get positive detections on human screams or other impulsive sounds. It will be using a particular type of microphone array, called ‘Crow’s Nest Array’, combined with advanced signal processing techniques to provide accurate locations of the specific sounds produced by missing people.
The system components are minimized in quantity, weight and size, for the purpose of being mounted on a drone. Therefore, the microphone array is composed of a large number of digital Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems microphones to find the locations of the victims. In addition, one supplementary condenser microphone covering a larger frequency spectrum will be used to have a more precise signal for detection and classification purposes.