Drones To Help Search And Rescue Dog Team

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 17.12.52A flying robot is being tested by a British search and rescue dog team to see how it could help them find missing people.

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 17.06.29The Sky News Swipe team joined the National Search and Rescue Dog Association (NSARDA) in Kent as they carried out a training exercise using their new drone.

The unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, is fitted with a camera so rescue volunteers can get high quality video footage of an area before they send in search dogs.

Speaking to Sky News as the mock rescue mission to save a local missing person began, James Dunn, NSARDA Kent chairman, said the drone would give them a view of challenges they could face ahead.

“It allows us to search these open fields very quickly.

“We take the high-resolution video … we look at that and then we’ll be able to make some really good intelligent decisions over how we use our resources to bring this guy home.”

Around 200,000 people are reported missing every year in the UK – so a bit of help in the shape of a flying robot has the potential to make all the difference in some of those cases.

NSARDA operates entirely on donations and was given the drone by O2, but the organisation is not alone in experimenting with UAVs for use in emergency situations.

Firefighters in the US have been flying robots for some time, while fire crews in Australia have begun trialling the technology, too.

In a test project in Chile, UAVs have been helping beach lifeguards by flying to swimmers in difficulty and dropping down a life preserver for them to grab hold of.

Developments in airborne technology have made some drones useful in disaster recovery scenarios.

Scientists at Stanford University have created a drone with flapping wings so it can fold up and move through difficult spaces, which could be of huge benefit in disaster recovery situations.

Amanda Stowers, who co-develop it, told Sky News there is a need for vehicles that can fly in cluttered environments.

“If there is a building collapse then no longer do you have a nice hallway that you can fly through, you’re going to have pieces of scrap that are just falling everywhere, you aren’t going to know where they are ahead of time to plan your path around them.”

Back at the rescue exercise in Kent, the NSARDA volunteers were able to locate their victim after drone footage showed a piece of clothing in a nearby field and a search dog was sent in to the area.

“It’s just another great step forward for us in how we can take new technology and get some real life-saving results from it,” James told us.

He is now hoping to see improvements such as waterproofing and night-vision on future drones that NSARDA could try out.

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