Drones create mobile networks to aid during rescue missions in Wales

During rescue missions, drones can create temporary mobile networks to help both the victims and the crews.

At the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre at Llanbedr, Wales, special rescue drones are being developed that will have a 4G or 5G mast on-board.

As long as the drones are within reach of a mobile phone, the phone could be used to contact 999 in the .

The drones could also be used to keep lost hikers in touch with rescue crews during rescue operations.

The mobile networks provided by the drones would not be accessible to the public.

“We've been developing this for about 18 months now and hope to be doing trials in the spring time of next year,” said Jeremy Howitt, a consultant at the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre, which plays a leading role in UK drone projects.

Jeremy Howitt, a consultant at the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre, which is a key player in UK drone projects, explained that they've “been developing this for about 18 months now and hope to be doing trials in the spring time of next year.”

Drones Create Mobile Networks To Aid During Rescue Missions

“I think people are very interested in how drones can be used, alongside conventional aviation and satellites, so there's a lot of activity, a lot of research work, but we are not aware of anything that's look specifically at this particular application.”

The idea has already cost $580,000 to develop, and another $580,000 is still required before the project can get underway.

The final version of the drone is anticipated to have a much longer flight time than the prototype, which can only stay in the air for three hours.

Mobile phone companies like Virgin Media O2 are among those who support the concept.

“We have all experienced ‘not spots' and bringing coverage to those ‘not spots', especially for the emergency services and for people in distress, is really important,” David Owens of Virgin Media O2 said according to the BBC.

North Wales Sgt. Paul Terry is one of the people eager to see the drone in action. He performs volunteer work with the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Team and the force's own drone unit.

“From a rescue point of view, we often see situations where people rely on their mobile phones to report an incident, an accident or report that they are lost,” he said. “But in the mountains of Snowdonia there are a lot of areas where there is poor or no network signal. That can be life-changing in a rescue situation.”

“And if there's a potential to provide greater coverage, and reliable coverage during an incident, what we can have is a two-way conversation between a casualty and a recue team to get better information in order to get better rescue resources and resolve an incident more quickly.”

Drones Create Mobile Networks To Aid During Rescue Missions In Wales 1
North Wales Police Sgt. Paul Terry with a in the background.

Let us know in the comments below what you think of using drones to create temporary mobile phone networks. We are curious to hear your thoughts on how drones can be used for good.


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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