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This Life-Saving Technology Takes Search-and Rescue Drones to the Next Level

UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) have proven their efficiency for search-and-rescue (SAR) operations, but there was one thing they were missing until now. Three experts in the field have joined forces to add a life-saving feature to drones, one that was only available on manned, fixed-wing platforms. By allowing operators to detect and communicate with mobile phones, this drone technology is a real game-changer.
The Echo SAR payload was now updated with a life-saving technology 7 photos
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Smith Myers’ Artemis mobile phone detection technology is the most recent addition to an already successful partnership between Teledyne FLIR, which has built the SkyRaider and SkyRanger R70 drones for SAR missions, and Robotics Centre, which developed the Echo SAR payload.

The Artemis technology “turns a mobile phone into a rescue beacon,” and has now been integrated on a small quad-rotor UAV for the first time. This will allow SAR operators to detect and map mobile phone handsets much faster by deploying a small drone in just a few minutes. As a result, potential victims’ mobile phones can be detected even when there’s poor network coverage or no coverage at all.

In addition to locating cell phones, this technology allows communication, which can prove to be critical in emergency situations such as natural disasters. According to Robotics Centre, operators can send messages to the mobile phones in the affected area and receive messages and calls. Phones can be located this way individually or on a mass scale, and the Echo payload also anonymizes personal information. So whether an individual or groups of people are at risk, the drone operators can locate them and communicate with them as fast as possible.

This new capability will make the SkyRaider and SkyRanger drones even more efficient in saving lives. The rugged platforms were designed for all-weather operations in areas with challenging terrain and can be easily operated by one person. In addition to SAR missions, they’ve also proven useful for military applications, such as border security.

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