The EU-funded ResponDrone project has been active for almost two years, making real progress in achieving its goal of developing and applying a fleet of drones operated by a single pilot in emergency situations, providing critical information and communication services to first responders.
The ResponDrone system aims to provide both, the rescue forces on site and the control center, access to the data generated via an app. With this information, it is then possible to request additional personnel or alternatively to dispatch those first responders’ personnel who are not required on site to other locations. The ability to supply real-time data to the units is precisely what could be improved using UAVs, ultimately assisting in the overriding effort to save lives.
UAVs are also a leading tool to considerably improve first responders’ capabilities when searching for missing persons. In the past, searches for missing persons were based entirely on a human presence on the ground (fire brigade, mountain rescue services, rapid response units and rescue dogs).
A UAV equipped with a thermal imaging camera can not only track down missing persons, but by hovering above the spot it can flash to show the rescue workers the way. They can then locate the scene of action on the screen and by precision coordinates can conduct a rapid rescue operation.
Much effort has also been invested by the consortium in gathering end-user requirements included literature research, case studies, interviews, and surveys as well as a design thinking workshop.
Altogether the findings show that during large scale natural disasters first responders especially need real time, relevant and reliable information on the situation in the disaster area. This includes for example position and health condition of victims and first response units deployed in field but also the position and status of available resources, such as medical and food supplies. Predictive information on how the disaster is expected to evolve soon as well as its predicted scale and kinetics would also be extremely helpful and would ease and accelerate situation assessment.
The project aims to demonstrate the system in autumn 2021.
As part of the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, RESPONDRONE and the related projects CURSOR, FASTER, INTREPID, PathoCERT, RESPOND-A, ASSISTANCE, Search & Rescue, SIXTHSENSE and INGENIOUS have received funding under the same topic SU-DRS02-2018-2019-2020 to develop technologies for first responders.