Having spent two days in a harsh winter environment in Bykle Setesdal, Norway, Aerialtronics – headquartered in the Netherlands – has learned more on the importance of drones for search-and-rescue operations.
The company's Altura Zenith – equipped with an Aerialtronics Dupla Vista dual-sensor camera – was used in an extensive search-and-rescue avalanche exercise with rescue agencies, including police and fire departments, the International Red Cross, the Army and the Air Force.
With a wind chill of -15 degrees C (5 degrees F) in three meters of snow, the exercise was a major undertaking, says Aerialtronics. More than 250 people took part in the exercise, which was 15 kilometers (over nine miles) from the nearest road.
“Sometimes, the weather is so bad that we cannot use helicopters,” says Ingrid Tronnes Maehre, deputy chief of police in Bykle Setesdal. “We wanted to test whether it is possible to use a drone instead. We found out what benefit we can get using drones in a rescue scenario and whether drones can help us locate missing or injured people faster,” she said. The verdict, says Aerialtronics, was positive.
The Altura Zenith provided aerial overwatch with optical and thermal cameras. Using mobile networks, these images were then transmitted to the on-site leaders.
Drone pilot Yannic van Moerkerk mastered the winds and poor visibility, says Aerialtronics, adding that the aircraft’s equipment – e.g., the GPS and camera – was not affected by the weather. The pilot was also able to switch between optical and thermal view.
Aerialtronics points out that if authorities are to benefit from using drones, they must view them as if the aircraft were police dogs: handpicked, paired with the best officer and trained every day for two years.
A video of the operations can be found here.
Photo courtesy of Aerialtronics