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Rescue and Search Through Drones

by Suleman


From decades ago, there have been accidents or incidences which have led to people missing. Different countries have experienced plane crashes or ships sinking. Natural calamities and terrorism are also part of the reasons why people may go missing. Search and rescue operation are used to save the victims. The methods have proved to help in recovering the missing persons. Search, and rescue process involves all the efforts made by an organized group of people to find a missing person who might be in imminent danger and need help. There are many specialties in the sector of search and rescue. The nature of the region in which they are searching determines the tools to use.

These could include mountain rescue, city rescue, rescue in battlefields, air rescue or rescue over the waters. The nature of the rescue mission helps the team to determine the tools and equipment to use. In early days, dogs and horses were mostly used to help in searching. People could do rounds in the area where the victim is suspected to be trapped. Though it helped, at times it was impossible to reach some regions on time to render help to the victim. The rescue teams have with time developed better resources to help in more successful rescues.  Over the years, search and rescue teams from different countries have come up with modern equipment. The aim is to develop more fast and efficient rescue operations. Some of the contemporary tools are the unmanned aircraft vehicle and the unmanned aircraft system.


During search and rescue operations, the time factor is very crucial. Each minute counts as a small delay may result in very severe consequences. The unmanned aircraft vehicle is referred to as the UAV while the unmanned aircraft system abbreviates as the UAS. The use of UAS is of great benefit in rescue operations. They minimize time used by quickly surveying the area and giving exact position of the missing person/ persons. The UAVs are also known as drones. The terms UAV and UAS work hand in hand. Unmanned aircraft vehicle is a small aircraft with no pilot on board, but instead, it operates by use of a remote control. On the other hand, unmanned aircraft system refers to the necessary components of the drone/UAV that contribute to search for and rescue missing people. They include the aircraft, software, remote control and control links (Graham-Rowe, 20). The principal aim of this device is to penetrate the disaster area, gather information on the specific location of survivor and land on the moving vehicle for the search team to look at the system.


The device has different uses in addition to the search and rescue mission. They include spotting bushfires and fighting them, supplying help during natural disasters and developing 3-D maps. They are also used to fight crimes through the surveillance by police. Different UAVs and UAS have been developed. When getting one, the user should have a clear understanding of the device and how it operates. The physical features of the drone are put in three words namely yaw, pitch and roll. The aircraft should rotate on its center axis in clockwise and anticlockwise motions. That is referred to yaw. The pitch explains the ability to move up and down while the roll explains the aerial movement from front to back.

It requires much training to be able to operate the UAV in the three movements and keep it stable. The UAS is also part of the drone. It has its technical terms to help understand how it works. The 2.4 GHz spread spectrum is the ratio frequency that the controller uses to operate it. That enabled it to jump to different frequencies avoiding any issues that may cause crashes. The accelerometer is a term that describes the maintenance of speed. The drone has a camera that helps get images. It is mounted on a gimbal which allows taking photos in different angles. The system has a gyroscope which measures the rate of rotation and maintains the balance of the aircraft. The final item of the UAS is LiPo which stands for lithium polymer. It is a battery that has maximized power and charge capacity. It is light in weight therefore convenient for the small UAVs (Schneider 2).

The device seems like the perfect tool for search and rescue due to its flexibility. However, it has some challenges. The quality of information from the system may be misguiding due to the low resolution of the camera. The aircraft uses a rechargeable battery to fly and therefore has a limited flight time. The UAV might not be able to avoid other tamper aircrafts which may result in crashes. Information processing needs memory storage and consumes a lot of energy. Network connectivity is required and might lac in some areas. Though UAS faces some challenges, it has some advantages as well as disadvantages. The advantages are versatility, time effective, quality of information, its application and cost.

The small size of the device allows it to penetrate places that were difficult to access. It can do so in a very short time and if well developed, give good quality information. The tool can be used for other application, and it is cost-effective. Its energy consumption is low. The disadvantages are minimal compared to the advantages. A mistake of the person using the remote control would cause a crash. The UAS could break down, or terrorist can live with it. These issues would result to crash which would cause loss of life and destruction of civilian’s properties. The drone might also disappear which would be very expensive. The disadvantages may include the operations of the search and rescue (SAR) team (Rivera et al., 14).

Research on the success of SAR activities has proven that the UAS is the so far the most convenient and effective tool. Through the use of the gadget, the search missions faster and more successful rescues have been reported. However, to make the UAVs more useful, certain improvement need to be made. The changes include adjusting the AUVs to smaller sizes and ensuring that the systems are strong and more secure to alleviate possible hacking. They should be of low cost, and the cameras have high resolution for more accurate images. If the changes are made, they will help avoid the limitations and challenges associated with UAS.

Even though they have been successfully used, the U.S Federal Aviation Administration prohibits its use. The officers have outlined safety concerns as the reason for that. Their concerns are the inability of the drone to identify and avoid other aircrafts which may cause crashes. That may result in loss of life and damage to property (Graham-Rowe, 20). The device lacks standards that govern its operation hence risky in the hands of untrained persons. The systems are prone to hacking and may be used for terrorism. Lastly, there are no comprehensive policies governing the operation of UAVs.

The FAA has set regulations to aid in the operation of drones and the UAS. They require the users to register their UAVs, and they should not use them for commercial reasons without licensing. They feel that the restrictions are overlooked and therefore prohibit their use. Developers have argued that the devices are very relevant and the FAA should remove the ban on their use. It helps in protecting the population in the event of a fire and other natural calamities. They can operate in high-risk areas to help in search of people in distress.

They can also be used by security officers to inspect a neighborhood and curb crime. For more efficiency, some changes should be effected. They include having a vehicular network system which helps extend network connectivity to areas with poor or no reception. That will enable the SAR team to locate a missing person even in the most remote places. Backpack with portable electrical power should be developed to ensure a steady supply of power. That would be ideal for deployment of the UAV to more areas and increase the efficiency of the SAR teams.

The future of the SAR operations requires that more technical devices are developed to meet the technological demand in the world today. People who get lost mostly have mobile phones. Phone applications should be made to help them look for help. Augmented reality headgears may enable the SAR personnel to get up to date information on the type of terrain the victim is trapped among other vital information (Camara 12).


Information on the use of UAVs and UAS has reached most people. Its efficiency in the search and rescue operations gives it a positive impact on the population. The different technologist has come up with more uses of the UAV. They are fast in giving accurate solutions. It is at times a threat to the civilians. Regulations should be put in place to govern their operation. According to research, a lot of money is spent on developing the UAS all over the world. There are good revenues from this sector and projection shows more steady growth. If well used, the unmanned aircraft system is very beneficial to people.

Works Cited
  • Camara, Daniel. “Cavalry to the rescue: Drones fleet to help rescuers operations over disasters scenarios.” 2014 IEEE Conference on Antenna Measurements & Applications (CAMA), 2014, doi:10.1109/cama.2014.7003421.
  • Graham-Rowe, Duncan. “Cheap drones could replace search-and-Rescue helicopters.” New Scientist, vol. 207, no. 2769, 2010, p. 20., doi:10.1016/s0262-4079(10)61727-7.
  • Rivera, A.j.a., et al. “Post-Disaster rescue facility: Human detection and geolocation using aerial drones.” 2016 IEEE Region 10 Conference (TENCON), 2016, doi:10.1109/tencon.2016.7848026.
  • Schneider,  David . “Why Are Search-and-Rescue Drones Grounded?” 2014.

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