At least 65 people have been rescued by drones in the last year, according to a new report issued by DJI. The report, covering May 2017 through April 2018, gathers accounts from news outlets and public safety agencies around the world and includes 27 separate incidents on five continents, the company says.
The report, “More Lives Saved: A Year Of Drone Rescues Around The World,” highlights how improved drone technology, rapid adoption by first responders and smart aviation regulations have combined to increase the pace of drone use in critical public safety missions. In conjunction with an earlier report released last year, DJI has now counted at least 124 people around the world rescued by drones.
The new report finds drones have dropped buoys to struggling swimmers in Australia and Brazil; spotted unconscious victims in sub-freezing weather in the U.K. and the U.S.; and found stranded people in fields and rivers and on mountains. However, DJI notes that the report “likely undercounts the number of lifesaving drone rescues around the world.”
The report says 22 of the 65 people were in “situations with great risk of death, such as stranded in a body of water or exposed in hazardous weather.” Furthermore, 19 were found/assisted by drones in “circumstances that were not imminently life-threatening but presented great risks to health and safety.”
“A single incident involved 24 tourists lost at night on a mountain with no food or water,” the report says. “Searchers found them with a drone after three hours of effort and needed hours more to carry them to safety. While it is unlikely that all 24 would have perished without the drone’s help, some were clearly saved from potential injury or death.”
According to DJI’s report, more than one person a week was rescued by a drone over the last year on average, including at least 18 found by thermal imaging cameras that can sense a person’s body heat even in darkness or thick brush.
In one case, police in Lincolnshire, England, responded to a car crash on a dark rural road on a cold night but were unable to find the driver. A drone with a thermal imaging camera spotted the driver in a ditch away from the crash scene and captured the moments when it guided officers to find him, as seen in the video below:
“Drones allow rescuers a way to find missing people, deliver supplies like food and life vests, and cut search and response times from hours to minutes,” comments Brendan Schulman, DJI’s vice president of policy and legal affairs. “When laws and regulations allow public safety agencies to deploy drones easily, rescuers are able to save time and money, protect their personnel, and most importantly, rescue people from peril.”
The full report can be found here.