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Benefits of Search and Rescue Drones

7 mins
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Drones are currently saving thousands of people each year through their use in various public emergency and safety situations. They are already saving lives through participation in various public emergency and safety operations all over the world.
Drones are also being very useful in search and rescue (SAR) operations, including finding people in need or risk and ships that may be lost at sea or unable to manoeuvre. Drones can be utilized to find victims of a disaster or remote areas where searchers may not have access.
SAR drones are typically less expensive than helicopters or human-crewed aircraft for use in rescue operations, and their usage may be quicker and more convenient. Search, and rescue UAVs are quick and simple to deploy when time is of the essence, allowing first responders to stay out of danger.

What are search and rescue? #

Search and rescue (SAR) is a branch of public safety that encompasses activities related to locating missing individuals. In most nations, the fire department is responsible for it. In the United States, several private SAR organizations exist; for example, Texas EquuSearch is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to search and rescue operations.
Fixed-wing UAVs, quadcopters, multirotors, and unmanned helicopters all have unique benefits and drawbacks in performing rescue operations. Fixed-wing search and rescue UAVs can generally fly faster and operate at more significant elevations than search and rescue quadcopters and multirotors. They can run for longer and have a greater range because they are more efficient.


Benefits of Drones for Search and Rescue (SAR) #

As opposed to other public safety operations, search and rescue missions are complex and unpredictable. These two elements have a significant influence on the entire outcome of a SAR operation:

  • Time: In most SAR operations, the missing person is in danger of dying if not found soon. As a result, rescuers must locate the individual as soon as possible.

  • Terrain: In areas without human compounds, SAR missions may face rugged terrain, such as a snowy mountain or rainforest, which might slow the whole procedure down.
  • The following are some of the reasons why SAR teams all over the globe utilize drones to help them accomplish their goals:

  • Drones are faster: Drones can travel a lot further and reach places that ground-based cars cannot; they may even go to areas out of bounds. For example, in the Czech Republic, there is a government agency known as the Mountain Rescue Service of the Czech Republic that agency’s drones to find missing persons trapped by an avalanche.

  • Situational Information: Drones allow for fast, low-cost access to a broad area’s aerial data. This allows responders to thoroughly go through the search area and look for potential hiding places where the missing person could be trapped.

  • Detecting and identifying Capabilities: Drones can carry a variety of sensors that can be used to find Earth’s ground features. In the following section, we’ll go through how these sensors are employed in detail.

    • Quick Communication: A drone, equipped with a loudspeaker, may broadcast a message to the missing person, informing people that they are missing.



    Uses of drones in search and rescue missions #

    The most significant advantage of drones for rescue workers is the ease of accessing aerial data of a vast region, allowing the search operation to speed up.

    What type of data is helpful in a rescue mission? #

    Drones can be used to carry a variety of goods, including camera equipment such as the 4K wide-angle camera and thermal camera, which are frequently utilized in search and rescue operations.
    In a search and rescue operation, video from a drone is of limited use since the quality is lost when examined on its own. On the other hand, a high-resolution still photo may be pretty helpful to those looking for the missing person on the ground. This is why cameras with the ability to shoot high-resolution photographs are more desirable.
    Thermal cameras are also utilized in search and rescue operations, particularly at night.

    What is a thermal vision camera? #

    A thermal/infrared camera is a sensor that can detect infrared light in a very tiny part of the electromagnetic spectrum. These are not visible light.
    Infrared radiation is emitted by everything that has bulk. A thermal camera can detect this type of radiation, which may be captured using a thermal camera. The camera generates colour or grayscale images with various shades of grey or colour to show different degrees of temperatures.

    How does a thermal camera help in search and rescue missions? #

    In 2019, an 88-year-old man from Brownsville, Texas, departed his home on a Monday evening and has not been seen since. When the family of the missing individual contacted the cops about his disappearance, a local search and rescue team was formed with assistance from the police and fire department.
    It was not until late at night that a resident drone pilot became involved. Around 11 PM, Desi Tristan, a local drone pilot, saw the older man in a field of tall grass. The area was being scanned with a drone that had a thermal camera installed. The drone soon found the older man, who was suffering from an unknown medical condition that had caused this event.

    How does FlytNow system improve the capabilities of drones (UAVs) #

    FlytNow is a cloud-based drone management solution that gives a single dashboard to manage many drones and real-time video and telemetry data streaming.

    What kind of problem does FlytNow solve? #

    The conventional use of manually operated drones during a search and rescue mission restricts the sharing of drone data among several agencies (fire, police, and EMS), making cooperation difficult. The issue gets worse when many pilots fly numerous drones. This is where FlytNow enters the picture as a cloud solution that links ground personnel with a web-based dashboard that pools all of their information and offers a command centre to handle all of the drones. The process is illustrated in the figure below.

    How to connect with FlytNow? #

    FlytNow supports DJI drones as well as custom drones built on PX4 or Ardupilot. It’s simple to connect a DJI drone. Download the FlytNow mobile app and link your phone with the RC first. The mobile connects the drone to the cloud software, allowing it to stream live data and video.
    A Single Board Computer (SBC) with the FlytOS operating system linked to the drone’s flight controller is required for connecting a bespoke drone. The SBC connects the drone to FlytNow via the internet using WiFi or 4G/LTE/5G module.

    FlytNow Enterprise for an advanced response system #

    FlytNow Enterprise is a more advanced version of FlytNow Business. It combines all of the capabilities of FlytNow Business with several extras. The solution is suited for developing an integrated drone response system that connects to computer-aided dispatch systems such as 911 and a network of drone stations powered by Drone-in-a-Box technology.
    The following functions could be included in a response system like this:

  • A dispatch system like 911 could send an incoming emergency alert to the FlytNow dashboard, where first responders may request a drone recon. This is feasible because of FlytNow’s robust APIs.
  • On request, the system may dispatch a drone from a nearby drone station. The Enterprise version offers extensive support for some of the most common Drone-in-a-Box and charging pads.
  • The Enterprise version’s BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) features and integration with UTM service providers like Airmap, Attitude Angel, etc., allow a drone to reach an emergency site on its own.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities like object detection can be used during a mission to quickly scan an area for people in need and identify them. The drone may even land on top of a designated spot using the precision landing function.
  • It’s challenging to construct a system like this because of the high volume of data that would be needed. For compliance purposes, it would be impossible to gather data on such a large scale. Integration with Drone Logbook makes it easier to record and manage flight data, which can then be used to produce automated reports.
    We’ve talked about the use of drones in search and rescue operations in this blog. We also covered a few popular drones and payloads that are useful for search and rescue operations. Finally, we discussed how FlytNow, as a solution, improves the capabilities of drones for public safety activities.


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