In the past year alone, media accounts from five continents have documented dozens of people saved from danger thanks to drones. Rescuers have used drones to drop buoys to struggling swimmers in Australia and Brazil; England and America; and find stranded people in farm fields, along rivers and on mountain trails.
From May 2017 through April 2018, DJI has counted 65 people who were rescued from peril by use of a drone.
A single incident involved 24 tourists lost at night on a mountain with no food or water. 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
“Kind of looks like a deer caught in the headlights,” said Micah Perkins, of Wewoka, Oklahoma. who said he knew something was wrong at his neighbor’s home.
Perkins then picked up his drone.
“I didn’t really think about it,” he said. “I just had it, and it was the perfect opportunity.”
Authorities said the female suspect, identified as Marissa Ramsey, was with a man but he left her in the dust.
“When he spotted the drone spotting him, he drove off rather quickly,” said Deputy Thomas Wood with Seminole County. “And, at this time, the operator of the drone noticed a female running from the residence.”
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is working with University of Montana wildlife researchers to test the use of a drone to document the presence of moose calves in northeast Washington, the department has announced.
This week, a contractor for the university will fly an unmanned aircraft system equipped with a video camera over radio-collared cow moose on public and private lands in Stevens, Pend Oreille and Spokane counties.
Among the drone owners involved in recovery efforts are the members of SWARM (Search With Aerial RC Multirotor), a volunteer group of UAV pilots focused on search and rescue, who sent volunteer crews to both Texas and Florida. Founded by California artist and UAV pilot Jim Bowers (whose alter ego is Demunseed on YouTube), SWARM is working under an emergency COA (Certificate of Authorization) to fly what the Red Cross calls Neighborhood Damage Assessments. A COA allows drone flights at locations, times and altitudes that aren’t normally permitted. Though SWARM had not deployed before the storms, the group quickly dispatched its members to Florida as Hurricane Irma departed the area.