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Drone Technology to the (Search &) Rescue

Published by Josh Spires on 23 April, 2018, updated on 10 February, 2022.

Drone Technology to the (Search &) Rescue

In search and rescue operations, every second counts. Traditionally, these operations have been hindered by treacherous and hazardous conditions, lack of access, as well as the need to deploy large, scattered teams creating a risk to personnel.

The reality is simple. When a disaster or incident threatens lives and livelihoods, emergency responders need accurate information and real-time imagery in order to make rapid and informed decisions that may save lives.

Enter drone technology.

Drones have the immediate ability to provide situational awareness over a large area quickly. They reduce the time and number of searchers or rescuers required for an emergency as well as dramatically reducing the cost and risks of search and rescue operations.

With the right payload, drones have the ability to provide real-time data and imaging – day or night – in challenging conditions and without risk to personnel. As an example, in the event of night search, a drone can be mounted with an infrared (IR) thermal imaging camera that can see in the dark and detect human body heat even in dense vegetation.

In Australia, our bushfires are diabolical. During firefighting operations, drones provide better access to dangerous areas with their ability to fly in, move around and get out without putting real pilots and search and rescue teams at risk. This not only aids in the appropriate deployment of fire and rescue resources, but can save lives!

Benefits at a glance
  1. Instantly ready to deploy. With planes and helicopters, the time taken to get them mobile may be too late. Drones can airborne and on-site in minutes.
  2. Weatherproof. Commercial drone construction allows them to work reliably and consistently in difficult and challenging weather conditions such as rain, snow, wind and dust.
  3. Managing extremes in temperature. Most modern drones are insensitive to these extremes. They can work close to bushfires without personnel risking their lives as well as extremes in cold.
  4. Long flight times. You can now select the perfect long-range drone for your application.
  5. Remote situation assessment. With data transfer to a base station in real time, it is no longer necessary for firefighters to enter unknown danger zones.
  6. Payload flexibility.  Specific drones let you choose the best payload option. Modular payload systems allow various devices to be attached to the drones. Be it a thermal image camera or gas measurement device, you can safely and securely gain this information without risk to personnel.
So what drones and cameras do we recommend for search and rescue ops?

In our research we found that several drones and their respective payload ability were ideally suited to search and rescue operations. We should note there are, of course, other UAV options, however, the brands noted here are already confidently flying search and rescue missions.

DJI Matrice 200 series

This professional series of drones offers flexibility and stability in search and rescue operations as well as being remarkably rugged and resilient.

The M200 series come standard with high-performance motors paired with 17-inch propellers ensuring stable flight in strong winds. The have a dual-battery power system that automatically heats batteries when flying in sub-zero temperatures, while an enclosed design ensures weather and water resistance, so you can fly in a wide range of environments.

With dual GPS, camera flexibility – top, front and back – and programmable remote control that provides remarkable accuracy for both navigation and camera use, it is ideally suited to search and rescue operations.

As a complete solution, we would recommend the DJI Matrice 210 RTK given its aerial ability, rapid set up from case opening to flight, and its ‘dual gimbal’ capability meaning it can carry a payload of two mounted cameras – for example, zoom and thermal – so perfect for a wide range of search and rescue applications.

DJI Zenmuse thermal cameras

The first integrated aerial camera with an optical zoom up to 30x and digital up to 6x, the Zenmuse Z30 offers remarkable image and data capture – perfect for search and rescue applications.

The camera itself is developed by FLIR and provides high-sensitivity infrared scanning. This sensitivity provides accurate temperature measurements ideal for search and rescue in hostile environments such as bushfires. The camera is available with four lens options to meet different search and rescue needs and stabilised and controlled by a custom DJI gimbal to provide smooth, clear imagery and 360 degrees of seamless rotational movement.

Aerial platforms are obviously essential tools for search and rescue operations looking for increased efficiency and speed in collecting information crucial to their operations.

The Zemuse thermal camera captures images and secures key data significantly faster than traditional methods, eliminating risk of harm to both personnel and equipment.

Designed to seamlessly integrate with DJI’s Matrice 200 series, the Zenmuse Z30 works right out of the box and gives access to all the intelligent features DJI is globally known for.

Talk to drone search and rescue application experts

As noted, with search and rescue, there are no second chances. If you are new to drone technology or indeed, search and rescue techniques, we highly recommend you speak to a drone specialist that can advise you on both drone options and the best approach to search and rescue applications.

Sphere Drones is arguably Australia’s leading source of expertise on commercial drones, drone accessories and search and rescue solutions in Australia.

Their Sydney-based facility is state-of-the-art and they have some of the industry’s leading personnel – making it (or their website) a logical first stop to identify a solution for your needs.

It is also a solutions development facility, where they can create proof of concept for your application and develop the perfect solution to meet your needs.  

If you are considering drone technology for search and rescue, talk to Sphere Drones.

Interested? Talk to our team

For inquiries or more information, please fill out the form below, and our team will contact you as soon as we can.

Interested? Talk to our team

For inquiries or more information, please fill out the form below, and our team will contact you as soon as we can.

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