On Oct. 14, the Ontario Provincial Police found a missing man after deploying drones manufactured by Canada-based Aeryon Labs.
The man, who suffers from dementia, went missing at twilight in a rural area. After his family searched for two hours, they called police officers who launched a SkyRanger drone.
About an hour after launch, the drone’s thermal-imaging sensors detected the man’s heat signature in a nearby cornfield about a mile from his home. Using telemetry from the UAV, rescuers were able to direct search dogs to the site. Medical workers treated the man for mild hypothermia but he was otherwise healthy.
According to an OPP press release, the UAS mission rescue was the second instance in recent months the agency’s drones have helped find a missing person – the first a hiker in Lanark County. The agency owns 11 SkyRangers.
Two weeks ago, police in Barrie, Ont. launched a SkyRanger to locate and track a suspected thief. The drone gave them a bird’s-eye view, allowing police to easily locate the 43-year-old fugitive in a clinic parking lot.
Earlier that week, the police force launched the drone to help locate an injured woman following a jet-ski accident near Niagara Falls.
“It’s definitely helpful if you are searching for someone, or evidence,” Barrie Police Constable Nicole Rodgers said. “When you’re getting a wider view of an area, where maybe there might be evidence or items that were maybe ditched during a foot pursuit.”
The Canadian company is slowly heading south of the border, launching partnerships with American public-safety agencies. At a recent workshop in Ohio, Aeryon experts trained local police and fire departments in the basics of drone deployment.
In 2014, the company announced an agreement with the Michigan State Police to standardize the agency’s statewide drone deployment with SkyRanger platforms. The quadcopter can fly up to 40 mph with a maximum flight time of 50 minutes. It offers a 1.9-mile beyond-line-of-sight range and can lift a five-pound payload.
Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters awarded Aeryon both the Exporter of the Year and Consumer Products accolades in 2014.