A team of researchers in Europe have come up with an ingenious way to locate victims using a drone, a phone, and artificial intelligence. The team has repurposed a drone to create an aerial cell tower to ping phones in the area and find the missing person.

The idea is smart and simple. A drone is sent up over a specific area with a cellular base station equipped to it. The drone will then fly over the area and detect signals from the phones in the area. Doing this allows the drone to find the location of the phone and send it back to rescuers.

The team built the product using off-the-shelf hardware and called it the search and rescue drone-based solution (SARDO). As some of you might know, it normally requires three cell towers to locate a person. The team has been able to remove this need as the cell tower itself can move. This allows various measurements to be taken to pinpoint the exact location of the person.

Antonio Albanese, a research associate at NEC Laboratories Europe GmbH, added:

We built SARDO to provide first responders with an all-in-one victims localization system capable of working in the aftermath of a disaster without existing network infrastructure support.

The main reason for building a system like this is that cell towers are often taken offline when a natural disaster strikes. Resulting in a lack of communication, making it harder for people to call for help and be located.

As the system uses a drone, it is fully battery powered and could even open up the possibility of creating a makeshift cellular network, allowing emergency services to locate people and people to call their loved ones.

As SARDO still has issues that need to be worked out, the team plans to continue working on it and improving it over the coming years.

We plan to extend SARDO to emergency indoor localization so [it is] capable of working in any emergency scenario where buildings might not be accessible [to human rescuers].

Check out all of the other amazing ways drones are helping to locate and rescue people.

Photo: IEEE Spectrum


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