Drones hit milestone number of human rescues

Dec. 4, 2020
Thermal imaging enables drone to find missing woman for record 500th drone rescue operation.

In this week’s roundup from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, which highlights some of the latest news and headlines in unmanned vehicles and robotics, DJI announces a new milestone for successful rescue operations conducted by unmanned systems and Goldman Sachs uses UAS to monitor business assets.

DJI announces that drones have helped rescue more than 500 people around the world from danger

According to new statistics collected by DJI, drones have helped rescue more than 500 people around the world from danger.

The milestone was achieved in mid-October, when a DJI drone with a thermal imaging camera was used to find a missing 93-year-old woman in a dark field in Missouri.

“With more than 500 people now rescued by drones operated under basic rules, we can see how reasonable regulations with low barriers to entry literally save lives, and how useful expanded drone operations at night and over people will be when they are permitted at scale,” says Brendan Schulman, DJI vice president of Policy & Legal Affairs.

“The successful use of drones in emergencies also starkly illustrates the crucial benefits to society that are placed in jeopardy when policy proposals seek to restrict or limit access to drone technology, or raise the costs of such equipment to public safety officials.”

DJI uses the DJI Drone Rescue Map to list rescues from around the world. The map tracks more than 300 incidents when police, firefighters, rescue squads and bystanders have used drones to save people from danger since the first known rescue in 2013. According to DJI, drones have found missing people in darkness, helped rescuers plot paths out of hazardous terrain, brought life preservers to people struggling in water, and delivered supplies to stranded people.

“Just a few years ago, drones were an experimental technology for innovators in public safety, and civilians with drones often volunteered to help the professionals in emergencies,” explains Romeo Durscher, DJI senior director of Public Safety Integration.

“Today, public safety agencies across the world have adopted drones as a standard piece of equipment, and drones save people from peril every few days. It’s an astonishing success story for public safety, and for the people who are alive today because of drones.”

DJI uses news stories and social media posts from authoritative sources such as police departments, fire departments and volunteer rescue squads to compile drone rescues. Each rescue is entered on the Drone Rescue Map with the location and date of the incident, a brief description, a link to the original story or post, and an easy way to share those incidents online.

DJI notes that the map and its tally do not include incidents when a drone is simply used as part of a larger search process. In order for an incident to be included in the tally, a drone must have directly located, assisted and/or rescued a person in peril.

Goldman Sachs uses drones during pandemic

Goldman Sachs has been using drone technology to get a closer look at potential targets for clients before securing billion-dollar deals.

With in-person meetings and conventional modes of conducting business deals put on pause due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the firm decided to use UAS to virtually oversee everything from railroads to chemical factories, shipping ports, warehouses, and other retail locations, according to Stephan Feldgoise, global co-head of mergers and acquisitions.

"We have been selling asset-based businesses all over the world, using drones for site visits and fly-overs," Feldgoise said in a CNBC interview.

"It gives buyers the confidence they need because when you are buying a business, you want to see, touch and feel what you are buying."

According to Feldgoise, more than 95 percent of Goldman's hundreds of deal transactions were conducted without in-person interaction. Feldgoise says that drone technology is likely to become an established trend.

“We believe it will change the M&A landscape forever,” he said.

Compiled by Brian Sprowl, Associate Editor, AUVSI

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