SkyBound Rescuer, a leading public safety drone startup, has teamed with global drone manufacturer DJI to produce the Drone Search and Rescue Altitude Guide, a novel and vital study based on years of research that will help Police and Search and Rescue drone pilots locate missing people.
Why the Drone Search and Rescue Altitude Guide is needed?
While drones are increasingly being used in successful missing person cases, a number of factors may still influence a drone's capacity to find the missing person.
One of these factors is reaction time, which has a direct influence on survival in Search and Rescue (SAR) scenarios; as search regions become larger over time, the chance of a successful find decreases.
Police and SAR drone pilots' rapid decision-making is therefore important to missing individuals – a difficulty within a complicated set of concerns.
Altitude is a critical element that may affect drone performance. Flying altitude has the most impact on the size of the person or search item on the drone pilot's screen.
Flying too high might imply that the missing person is smaller than a pixel on their screen, making them invisible to the naked eye.
Furthermore, the best flying altitude is determined by whether the camera gimbal is tilted or top-down, as well as whether the missing person is standing, strolling, or lying down.
The size of the person or item on the screen is determined by all of these elements.
What is the best altitude to fly your drone?
SkyBound Rescuer has spent the last six years doing a thorough study into all elements that affect drone effectiveness during searches.
The collaboration with DJI now culminates in the creation of the Drone Search and Rescue Altitude Guide, a three-question survey for Police and SAR drone pilots to complete before drone flight to determine the ideal altitude for identifying a missing person.
“After years of passionate research into drone performance variables, it's a big step to be launching the Drone Search and Rescue Altitude Guide together with DJI,” says Gemma Alcock, Founder & CEO of SkyBound Rescuer. “We know that time is a critical factor in SAR operations, so complex decisions need to be made quickly but accurately. Our research has shown that altitude is one important reference point that, once optimized to be more accurate, will have a massively positive impact on SAR success stories. Everyone on the SkyBound Rescuer and DJI teams who have been working on this altitude guide are excited for Police and SAR drone pilots to start using it and saving thousands more lives.”
Following completion of the brief survey as part of pre-flight inspections, the user is sent to a sample picture from a visual camera and a sample image from a thermal camera: two examples with various thermal palettes – the two most typically used in SAR: White Hot and Iron Red.
This enables the user to ‘calibrate' their eyes on what the missing person will appear like on their screen at the set altitude, camera gimbal angle, and missing person's probable body posture.
Based on their survey responses, the Drone Search and Rescue Altitude Guide will also generate guidance that advises the drone pilot on whether these parameters are optimal or not, which is based on SkyBound Rescuer's research into Johnson's Criteria (a standard that determines the minimum number of pixels required to make an accurate evaluation of an object), effective resolution, and SkyBound Rescuer's trials into optimal flight parameters for drone searches.
“At DJI, we're committed to developing features to enhance drone flight safety, as well as supporting pilots in safe and responsible drone use,” says Wayne Baker, Director of Public Safety Integration at DJI. “When it comes to drones being deployed by emergency services, SkyBound Rescuer's public safety research is unparalleled, so we're thrilled to collaborate on this Drone SAR Altitude Guide and turn Gemma's research into a tangible, lifesaving solution.”
Let us know what you think about the Drone Search and Rescue Altitude Guide in the comments below. You can read more stories about drones being used for good here on DroneXL.
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