Swiss dronemaker Flyability is teaming up with rescue workers at the Zermatt Glacier region in the Swiss Alps to explore inaccessible mountain crevasses as high as 11,000 feet — demonstrating how drones might be used to find climbers who may fall into such dangers.
“This successful experience has shed light upon the promising results of using this game-changing device for mountain search-and-rescue missions,” said Flyability CEO Patrick Thévoz in a press release. “The technology has been warmly welcomed by Zermatt rescue professionals as they are constantly developing and refining rescue techniques, which reach the highest efficiency in crevasse fall emergencies, to locate injured parties before dispatching a rescue team in dangerous situations, Thévoz added.
The company is expanding the potential for drone use in SAR by using a unique design – the company’s roto-drive UAV is protected by a spherical, rotating “cage” that allows the vehicle to maintain stability even after bumping into walls of ice or even humans. The drone can also roll along the ground or a ceiling.
In February, Flyability’s bizarre design – dubbed the GimBall — beat out 39 other drone entries to win the UAE’s Drones for Good competition in Dubai for a million-dollar prize.
New innovations like the GimBall design will continue to make drones more useful in public safety sectors like police, fire-fighting and SAR. “[Drones] could be a useful tool for gathering information, getting a lay of the land, and possibly assisting in searching difficult terrain,” noted Randy Felix, vice-president of Crested Butte Mountain Rescue in a recent media report.
“[UAS] could help to increase the probability of detection in a given search area in conjunction with traditional [SAR] techniques. SAR teams need to be aware of new technology and have open minds when it comes to these types of things,” Felix added.
Several drone companies have a head-start in equipping SAR teams. Terrestrial Imaging recently announced the release of DroMight. The result of almost a year of research and development, the DroMight allows DJI Phantom users to attach a life line to the UAV that can then be flown to a victim in an emergency situation such as raging rivers or thin ice. Once a line is connected to a victim, a SAR team can provide additional support such as food, a two-way radio or cell phone, as well as a heavier line.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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