Austrian military drone manufacturer Schiebel has teamed with refugee rescue organization Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) to save over 8,800 refugees stranded in the Mediterranean so far this year. MOAS is the first civilian organization to use the Camcopter® S-100 for humanitarian purposes.
MOAS has used the S-100 to assist in search and rescue missions for troubled ships carrying refugees from a variety of countries, including Eritrea, Somalia, and Syria, across the Mediterranean. The S-100’s camera delivers daylight and infrared video in real time to the MOAS team: the high quality footage enables the team to locate small ships several miles away and accurately assess the type of boat and it’s level of danger. After locating a vessel in distress, MOAS notifies the appropriate official rescue organizations, and then provides additional aid as needed including water, blankets, life jackets, and emergency first-aid treatment.
MOAS’ Phoenix, a 40 meter ship on which the military-grade drone is stationed, works in cooperation with Rome’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre to perform refugee rescues. The drone, largely sponsored by Schiebel, is operated by Schiebel staff. Schiebel plans to continue to support the operation, offering completely free use of the drone in 2015, according to an MOAS spokesperson.
The Migrant Offshore Aid Station, a Malta-based NGO, was formed in 2013 by the Catrambone family following the drowning of 400 migrants near the Italian island of Lampedusa. MOAS patrols major migrant shipping lanes to locate vessels in distress. Previously operating only in the Mediterranean, MOAS plans to expand operations to South East Asia this year.
“The ultimate aim is to mitigate loss of life,” says Martin Xuereb, director of MOAS.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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