Search and rescue operations are one of drones’ great contributions to the world – allowing teams to save lives in a way that is faster, cheaper, and better than a ground search. It’s even an area where many recreational pilots lend a hand, volunteering with local law enforcement agencies. Now, search and rescue with drones has gotten even better: DJI, the world’s leading maker of unmanned aerial vehicles, and DroneSAR, the Irish tech start-up specializing in search and rescue, have announced a new app that integrates drone footage into incident management software.
“DroneSAR can stream live images and video, from a regular or thermal imaging camera, to an incident command center as well as other rescue teams on the ground,” says DJI’s statement. “The software can tag the GPS coordinates of a victim and automatically transmit them by email or SMS, enabling ground crews to reach victims more quickly. Completed search patterns are all recorded and logged for easy handover to oncoming rescue crews.”
DroneSAR allows rescue management teams to use drones methodically, organizing the process of data collection and allowing rescuers to manage and analyze the aerial data. “The app takes into account various types of terrain, allowing the drone to fly patterns to survey an area faster and more effectively. Flight paths can be adjusted for any terrain including hills, mountains, trees or flat land,” says the DJI announcement. Drone operators could choose an aerial search pattern based on variables like altitude, field of view, battery life and probability of detection.
“From understanding on how to use the technology, to communicating findings and data, to figuring out the most appropriate tactical approach, first responders can benefit greatly from this software app on our DJI hardware,” said Romeo Durscher, Director of Education at DJI. “Many of the tasks and strategies deployed during a search and rescue operation can get sped up with automation, helping to reduce the time it takes to find a victim and save lives.”
The first-of-its-kind software was developed based on research done by DJI in conjunction with the European Emergency Number Association and Ireland’s Donegal Mountain Search and Rescue team. The groups found that while a five-person rescue team on foot needs an average of two hours to find a victim in one square kilometer, a drone can do the job in 20 minutes or less while taking additional active steps to achieve a successful rescue.
“Our aim is to save lives,” said Oisin McGrath, Co-Founder and CEO of DroneSAR. “Our software will reduce risk to search teams and reduce search time. If we can save just one life, that is mission success for us at DroneSAR.”
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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