A July 2018 study conducted by DJI, EENA and Black Channel concluded using drones for search and rescue (SAR) missions are faster than standard practice. SAR teams in Ireland and Wales conducted 50 trials. The teams were divided into two: one with drones and one without. Both teams had to find simulated victims, and the trials concluded that no-drone teams using standard search practice found targets in 85% of the trials, while the drone-enabled teams found targets in only 77% of the trials. Even though the no-drone teams found their targets at a higher rate, the drone-enabled teams found their targets an average of 191 seconds faster.
Drones are the future for search and rescue teams, but they need to be improved
“The potential for drones to save lives is clear – at least 160 people have been rescued by drones around the world – but the science of how to best use drones for public safety is still in its infancy,” said study co-author Romeo Durscher, DJI Director of Public Safety Integration. “Unlike ground-based SAR, which has refined its methods for decades, there is no playbook for drone SAR. We’re excited to be among the first groups of researchers to start writing that playbook, because our work can help save more lives.”
The trials also revealed the areas where drone technology could be improved. Trial reports showed that some of the drone operators experienced trouble spotting black and yellow targets on their screens, especially under the full sun. Red targets were the easiest to spot, and since most of the drones were equipped with wide-angle lenses, height and distance perception were less accurate compared to in person.