Like many modern technologies that were developed originally for military use, UAVs have found a home in numerous commercial applications. In some areas, such as surveying, they are proving to be superior to prior methods, simplifying functions that were complicated, time-consuming, and labor-intensive.
As drone technology continues to improve, more industrial and public service sectors are recognizing the advantages of using drones for difficult tasks. xCraft believes that one area where UAVs can shine is in search and rescue operations, because of several distinct advantages.
When it comes to search and rescue, the best help is usually visual information. Today’s surveying UAVs are already equipped with state-of-the-art high resolution cameras that can scan and zoom. So if you’re looking for a lost hiker or a downed plane or a missing vehicle, you can use high-resolution imaging to identify what is on the ground, zoom in, and scan for details. Moreover, UAVs can be equipped with other types of cameras, including IR and EO, which has the capability of detecting heat signatures through smoke, fog, and foliage, allowing drone operators to quickly identify where a search may be most fruitful, even in low light conditions.
For example, a UAV like xCraft’s Matrix SE allows operators to connect up to three cameras for maximum visibility and detection, including a thermal camera. A single drone and one on-the-ground remote pilot can replace a whole team of ground-based search and rescue workers. With 42 minutes of flight time, the Matrix SE can cover a large tract of land in a fraction of the time it would take a ground crew to cover the same area. Even more, the drone can be deployed quickly and repeatedly after recharging, without needing sleep or food.
UAVs can relay information in real-time, giving rescue crews time to prepare, and supplying them with information they need about where and how to conduct a successful rescue operation with minimal risk and with the right gear to go in, provide aid, and extract people at risk. Freed from the effort of having to first conduct exhausting search tasks, rescue crews can be deployed quickly and efficiently, with a minimum of wasted time and effort.
Drones Can Get to Difficult-to-Reach Locations
One challenge for search and rescue teams is finding lost or injured parties without exposing the search party to danger. Especially in the aftermath of a human-caused or natural disaster, there may be areas where it is unsafe to send in a search and rescue team without also putting their lives at risk. The last thing you want to do in a search and rescue operation is to have to send out a second team to rescue the rescuers.
Drones can help you get around this problem. UAVs allow you to undertake the search aspect of search and rescue without putting any lives on the line. Drones like xCraft’s Nano One not only allow humans to search from a safe distance, but can search canyons, gullies, cliffs, crevices, mountains, crags, and other hard-to-reach places that would be risky for human search parties to enter.
Speed is also critical in search and rescue missions; survival of lost parties frequently depends on how quickly they can be located. Fortunately, drones can be deployed almost instantaneously–no need to assemble and prepare a search team, no need to get a pilot and helicopter on-scene and briefed. Your entire search and rescue team can be trained to pilot the UAVs, since drone pilot training is not complicated or time-consuming. Reaction time is minimized, since UAV searches can get underway as soon as the call comes in.
Non-Stop Search and Rescue
Search parties are always governed by the needs of the people who man them. To conduct a full-scale 24/7 search, you will need a lot of manpower, with multiple teams working in shifts and a lot of resources in terms of food, beds, equipment, and vehicles. With UAVs, a team can be assembled and given time to prepare and rest up until the drone collects the information they need on where to focus the rescue and, just as importantly, where not to focus the rescue. Since a drone can fly in close and provide high-resolution footage, it can also provide information on a lost party’s status, and let the rescue crew know what they need to be prepared for.
Some drones have docking stations, and can be pre-programmed to return to base when their batteries are low, to automatically recharge and redeploy. Even more, multiple drones can be deployed at the same time to cover different areas, making search and rescue operations even more efficient when time is of the essence.
With the aid of modern UAV technology, search and rescue missions are more likely to be successful and result in fewer casualties for both lost parties and the search and rescue teams in the field. Contact xCraft to learn more about drones for search and rescue applications.