Speeding up SAR with drones

Speeding up SAR with drones

New software developments could improve the life-saving potential of drones by speeding up search and rescue missions.

Maker of UAVs DJI, which is based in Shenzhen, China, has performed search and rescue (SAR) tests that show that a properly equipped drone could speed up SAR missions. The company said that new software developments are key to putting this life-saving potential into action.

DJI performed its research in conjunction with the European Emergency Number Association and Ireland’s Donegal Mountain Search and Rescue and discovered that while a five-person rescue team needs two hours on average to find a victim in one square kilometre, a drone can not only find that victim in just 20 minutes, but can take additional active steps to achieve a successful rescue.

“Drones are already being used to save lives around the world, but we believe working with experienced emergency responders is the right way to develop a strategic approach that will maximise their capabilities,” said DJI director of education Romeo Durscher.

DJI said it is now developing controlled test methodologies to continue collecting data on how drones can save lives in firefighting, SAR and other forms of emergency response, as well as better protect SAR personnel.

Along with research and development firm Black Channel, DJI recently led a field study of drone rescue technology in extreme altitudes and weather conditions on the Adamello Glacier in Italy’s Dolomite mountains. The project, which used the DroneDeploy application, was the first project to use scientific methods to assess the value of drones to support expert search teams in extreme conditions.

The project used the DroneDeploy application and included:

  • – taking images from the drones and creating mosaic maps for search and rescue teams to select search trajectories and prioritise possible victim locations;
  • – mapping to identify changes in environmental conditions that may increase risk to the search teams including heavily forested mountain areas;
  • – training local youth and mountaineers about the fundamentals of drone aviation, engineering and basic experimental design and statistics;
  • – enhancing glacier environmental studies through aerial data collection.