Drones have not been a stranger to most of us anymore, especially when aerial footage is becoming a regular videography tool nowadays. But for emergency response teams who perform search and rescue missions, aerial footages from a drone is a love-hate relationship for them.
While the regular camera of search and rescue drones still offer the impressive aerial footage that we love, the use of the thermal imaging camera on the drones typically meant someone is in danger. And it is not what everyone would like to hear.
But why drones are used in search and rescue missions? And why they will need a thermal imaging camera?
Previously in search and rescue,helicopters are used to scan large areas in a short time to find traces of the missing person and hopefully locate the person.
However, the use of helicopters is not exceptionally efficient with issues surrounding pilot flight hours and noise, not to mention the bad weather when most search and rescue missions are performed.
As drones are first invented as an alternative for laymen to access the features that are only found with helicopters, it is not surprising to see drones replacing the use of helicopters in search and rescue missions.
In fact, drones offer more benefits than using helicopters in search and rescue missions.
Firstly, drones have basically unlimited flight time. Because of the reduced need of a pilot and fuel, drones can continuously perform search and rescue mission for extended amount of time. With some learning, drones can be operated by almost anyone without the risk of placing human lives at stake. Drones automation application is also under development for faster utilisation of search and rescue drones.
Not only are drone operators more easily found, but the flight time is not limited by the tank of fuel on board. Batteries can be continuously replaced and recharged on the drone that offers minimal downtime for search and rescue drones.
Secondly, drones are less limiting in terms of the flying conditions. The use of drones for urban search and rescue mission is possible with the minimal noise of the drone. Even in more risky flying conditions like low visibility and strong wind, drones can stay in the air longer as no lives are risked on the drone.
One of the characteristics of drone that is not inherited from helicopters is its ability to manoeuvre through tight spaces. For search and rescue missions in forests or into a cave, drones can reach into the deeper part of the area in better efficiency.
Lastly, drones are better equipped nowadays for search and rescue missions. Most of the drones used for search and rescue have thermal imaging camera included. While SAR helicopters also used thermal camera, because of the flight altitude of drones, the possibilities of the thermal camera in locating a heat signal is faster than that in a helicopter.
There are one more benefit of search and rescue drones in its ability to coordinate with other drones. Unlike the use of helicopter which only allows one aircraft in a certain airspace, multiple drones can be operated in the same area to increase searching efficiency.
It is found, with great SAR planning, drones can help to locate a missing subject at an average of three minutes faster.
As the official DJI retailer in Australia, D1 store stocks search and rescue drones from DJI for all Australian SAR responders.