Why Drones are the Future of Search & Rescue

Us humans are a naturally inquisitive and curious bunch. Because of this it's no surprise that we tend to wander off and get lost, ironically often in an attempt to 'find ourselves'. In most parts of the world it isn't normally a big deal. You order an Uber, call a friend or just retrace your steps. But sometimes it's not quite as simple as that. Uber is yet to extend its service to the remote outback of Western Australia or the icy crevasses of the Swiss Alps. You don't always have 4G when roaming through the Rocky Mountains. Search and rescue operations are often needed...

The Gimball, from Flyability - A search and rescue drone like no other.

The Gimball, from Flyability - A search and rescue drone like no other.

In some of the most remote corners of the world, search and rescue planes are used to spot missing people from above. This though, as well as being expensive and inefficient, offers no guarantee of success. It seems clear that UAVs of some description hold the key for the future of operations of this type. 

Goldfields drone enthusiasts Owen Hinton, Tim Neeson and Adam Cockburn. 

Goldfields drone enthusiasts Owen Hinton, Tim Neeson and Adam Cockburn. 

In Western Australia's Goldfields region, there have been several high-profile cases in the past year of prospectors losing themselves in the outback. Heat exhaustion and dehydration can kick in after a few hours, meaning that in every case lives are on the line. Following an increase in missing persons incidents, the  region's police superintendent Darryl Gaunt, has declared his interest in using drones in future cases

As search and rescue operations involving police, Special Emergency Services personnel and aircraft become increasingly expensive to organise, the superintendent is looking to drones for a solution. "These things do run into the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars very quickly. We certainly have an appetite for drones. They offer us a quality product, it's highly portable and it's also far more cost efficient than aircraft," he said. 

Intel have shown the potential of drones working as part of a 'swarm'. 

Intel have shown the potential of drones working as part of a 'swarm'. 

Drone technology is developing so rapidly that everything is already in place for an effective search and rescue solution. Thermal imaging accessories can added onto standard camera drones, which can we programmed to operate as part of a swarm and cover large areas quickly. One issue may be flight time, but with many drones working together, added to the ability to quickly land, charge and relaunch, this shouldn't be too much of a problem. 

DJI and Ford have teamed up to fund a search and rescue drone competition

DJI and Ford have teamed up to fund a search and rescue drone competition

At some point search and rescue may even be taken to a whole new level. Remember the personal transport drone featured at CES last month? Imagine a team of those taking part in an emergency search and rescue operation...

The Ehang 184 - Your luxury ride to safety?

The Ehang 184 - Your luxury ride to safety?