Search and rescue workers looking for missing people may soon have the aid of drones at their disposal. And yes, while there are some areas that use drones for locating people already, this new idea proposes something larger.
A Fleet to the Rescue
Instead of a singular drone flying around in search for clues on a missing person’s whereabouts, a fleet of drones would fly out instead. This covers a lot more ground, making the search process more efficient. It also creates a faster response time, avoiding critical scenarios like hypothermia and dehydration. Instances that come when the missing go unfound after nightfall or after a set amount of hours.
The search and rescue drone fleet works best in woodland or mountainous areas, compared to urban landscapes. Usual missing cases in these isolated areas involve hikers and tourists who strayed the path. For the most part, going on foot to search for any missing person on the trail can take a long time. A person may suffer from hunger, dehydration, or even injury from a fall in these times. Therefore, it is a paramount concern to find them quickly. The time deadline changes – depending on the time of day (one must act before nightfall) or the weather (snowy regions are more dangerous).
The Value of Time
In these cases of missing civilians, Search and Rescue often receive word of the incident hours after someone goes missing. This is because either companions of the missing search for them themselves, or nobody bothered to check until someone pointed it out. Because of this, Search and Rescue often come to the area with barely any trace left.
Some units bring along dog companions to help with the tracking. Others retrace steps or split into teams and search areas grid by grid. These are the old methods, of which could take a long period of time – long enough for the scent to grow cold.
With the use of technology, drones have come into the picture. Now, instead of manually searching every field and tree, a drone can simply fly above the ground. With a bird’s eye view of the area, a drone can spot any trace of a person faster. When equipped with specialized tools such as thermal vision, searching someone at night would also not be a problem. Drones can also carry speakers to contact any person in the area. In some cases, drones were able to carry items to the stranded civilian while waiting for help to arrive. These items, while limited in weight, can help a lot in the person’s chance of survival. Bottled water, some food, or even a blanket can be the main difference when out in the wilderness.
Benefits of Drones
Drones are small – meaning they are portable and can easily fit in a bag. Rescuers can simply bring one with them to the field for an added leverage. With technology in today’s drones including vertical landing and takeoff, one can easily launch them anywhere. The aerial vision it provides is undoubtedly its biggest asset.
Before the rise of drones, searching via air routes often involved planes or helicopters – a near impossible feat to accomplish. This is because time and price makes it very hard to procure these aircrafts for any significant aid in the search.
Drone Fleet Takes Off
A fleet of drones can cover a lot more ground. This gives a fighting chance for those missing in critical areas, such as mountain regions or deserts. The main concern with one drone is its battery life. At the most, a good drone can fly for up to 30 minutes without requiring a charge. After that, it has to go back to base and refill its batteries. This means the drone cannot fly, and workers cannot use it for their search.
A drone fleet can cover a larger area with the same battery lifespan. It just means each covers their own field while everyone else checks their own. Using a fleet to scan large areas, and combined with thermal tech and 3D imaging, finding anyone would be a snap.