Drones to the Rescue!
The use of unmanned aerial systems for civilian search-and-rescue operations or disaster management is not new. Predators drones, commonly associated with military operations, were used in the aftermath of the hurricane Katrina in the United States; rotary-wing vehicles equipped with radiation sensors, infrared thermometers and cameras helped out at Japan’s post-tsunami Fukushima nuclear facility. These are just a couple examples of the cross-application potential of such platforms. This article explores the concept, development, and results of a project to develop an unmanned system on board an aircraft. Equipped with a thermal/optical camera and a multi-sensor navigation system benefiting from the European augmentation system EGNOS, the system is designed for a particular application: finding people lost in remote and rugged outdoor environments.