Drone maker DJI says its drones are 80% faster in search and rescue missions than traditional methods, according to research done by DJI in conjunction with the European Emergency Number Association.
The study found that while a five-person rescue team needs two hours on average to find a victim in one square kilometer, a drone can find that victim in 20 minutes.
And anecdotes to back that data up are not uncommon. In 2014, an amateur drone pilot located an 82-year-old man who had gone missing in Wisconsin in 20 minutes. Authorities had previously been searching for him for three days.
“I do think that the drones can improve search techniques,” said Joe Eyerman, Co-Director of Black Channel. “If we can resolve some of the minor challenges we had on this study, we would be able to give them to members of the search community right away and they could begin making the mountains a safer place.”
Search and rescue has widely been regarded as a fundamental application for drones. S.W.A.R.M. operates a volunteer network of more than 1,000 drone pilots worldwide to deploy in emergency rescue situations.
Goldman Sachs analysts predict the total market for drones in civil use cases from non-defense public agencies, including police and fire departments could total $2.7 billion over the next five years.
DJI also says it is using drones for more than just spotting a lost party, such as by working with DroneDeploy to take images from drones and create maps for search and rescue teams.
“As we study the search and rescue process, we realize that finding a victim in rough terrain is just the first part of the process,” Durscher said. “A drone also must be able to transmit images and GPS coordinates to other searchers and commanders as part of a coordinated software solution, deliver small rescue payloads to a victim, and serve as a beacon to guide rescuers to the right spot.”