When an ‘enemy’ comes to the rescue
THEY are different from what most people think they are. Though inanimate, they have vision that far surpasses what the human eye offers during rescue encounters.
Touted as monstrous objects by science fiction movie scriptwriters in the past, flying robots are somewhat more functional than the most vigorous of all rescuers. Where the human eye may pierce and fail to locate victims in a rescue mission, where all the likelihood of saving people seems impossible, drones at least, bring a glimmer of hope.
We are waving goodbye to failed rescue missions, courtesy of unmanned aerial vehicles! In the past it was difficult to lessen the victim search time, amass information about the surroundings of victims, conduct accurate aerial assessment of damage from disasters, and send relief supplies in extremely devastated environments. The advent of drone technology is bringing wonders in humanitarian work.
From foe to friend
Previously used for spying pending destruction of human lives in military escapades, drones now spy to save lives! Drones equipped with artificial neural networks can navigate through complicated trails even in regions of extremely challenging topography. Emergency mountain operations can be embarked upon under cacophonous environments using drones. Rescue missions by nature are tough. Relief operations in challenging environments range from rescues in mountains, from floods, earthquakes, mine disasters, victim search in caves, mudslides, surfs, locating missing aircraft, and searching for people in the wilderness. An effective rescue mission pre-empts the adverse effects of weather that wipes out clues. The most successful missions are those that exhibit rapid response resulting in expeditious care and attention being provided to the casualty. Unmanned aerial vehicles allow rescue teams to narrow their focus on searching disaster victims rather than on avoiding hazards. Evidence on the presence of a victim in certain situations is gathered through sensory operations and reported to a remotely located rescue team before bad weather destroys it.
Post-quake disaster response Unmanned aerial vehicles are invaluable in humanitarian work following earthquakes. Presently they are being used in filming and taking pictures of areas struck by earth movements. These videos and pictures are used to map out hard hit areas pending relief. The flying technology hovers above remnants of cities wrecked by the seismic quiver. Through infrared, visible light, hyper spectral and multispectral sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles glance over dilapidated buildings and fragments of cities. They hand over the real time data and images of the ruins to rescue team control and monitoring posts. Response squads can spot casualties and rush to save lives. In this way also, the extent of damage from the convulsion is promptly assessed. Rescue and search operations are consequently quickened up at low cost. Drones are proving to be less costly in these missions compared to the use of helicopters and human relief agents where time is of the essence. Increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles was witnessed in the Nepal spasm of 25 April 2015 in which 9 000 people perished. China also deployed drones in the aftermath of the Sichuan quake of 2008 where 69 000 people lost their lives and 18 000 were reported missing.
Floods Drones are operationally applicable in sending advance flood warnings and responding to flash floods. A trail of destruction is what floods can leave given that they come without warning and in a flash just like that! Flash flood predictions are now possible in which drones gather information during a storm, sending it out quickly and efficiently to the responsible authorities and potential victims in the area under threat of flooding. Vulnerable communities can thus start vacating the place ahead of the impending disaster. Well-constructed unmanned aerial vehicle systems predict the specific trail of inundation. This affords citizens space and chance to be moved out before they are plunged. The concept involves wireless data transmission from the drone to some centralized database. An excellent system of this calibre develops a model of the flow of the flood water to give impressive flash flood predictions. Unmanned craft systems for this particular application have been developed in Saudi Arabia while flood-mapping applications have been tested in Tanzania. Flood displaced landmines can also be monitored using unmanned aerial vehicles in the aftermath of the disaster. The Bosnia-Herzegovina experience gives testimony to this. Drones have been deployed in post-flood mapping in the Philippines. Their use after floods extends to flood mapping and storm damage assessment as evidenced in Haiti. Not only are they useful in flood-relief. They are significant in post flood reconstruction.
Mountain rescue missions Hill climbing can be exciting to hikers but many are times when some backpacking adventurist goes missing. To save such a one timeously calls for the mobilisation of professional human volunteers who go forth sending out signals to the lost hiker. Such personnel sometimes survey the environment at the risk of losing more people from the search team where conditions are raucous. Moreover, the search for a missing person is a race against time. Helicopters and aircraft may not be dispatched if the search is being conducted in the evening. Besides, choppers are expensive.