This mobile phone detecting payload can be a gamechanger for search and rescue drones

search rescue drones mobile

When it comes to search and rescue (SAR) operations, every second matters. And this new drone payload strives to not let any moment go waste as rescuers look for survivors trapped under debris or buried in an avalanche.

Echo SAR turns any cellular handset into a location beacon, even when there is no cellular network present.

Designed by Canadian firm Robotics Centre and manufactured by Teledyne FLIR Defense, the Echo SAR drone payload is equipped with the ARTEMIS mobile phone detection system, which has been developed by British cellular tech company Smith Myers.

The module enables drone operators to quickly find, map, and interact with mobile phone handsets in fast-evolving disaster situations, boosting the ability of first responders to locate victims and save lives.

More specifically, Echo SAR can find both an individual mobile handset and conduct mass mapping of mobile phones in out-of-service areas. Similarly, it can be used to communicate either with individuals or groups of mobile phones via SMS.

Now, the technology itself is not new. What’s new is its adaption for small, quickly deployable drones such as Teledyne FLIR’s R80D SkyRaider and SkyRanger R70 aircraft.

As Dr. Eric Karmouch, CTO of Robotics Centre, explains:

Previously, ARTEMIS airborne capabilities were only available for use on manned rotary and fixed-wing platforms. Now, for the first time, this life-saving technology can be deployed in minutes on a small quad-rotor UAV, providing a whole new capability to SAR operators working in the most difficult conditions.

Also read: Aaaah! Why are researchers teaching drones to listen for human screams?

Calling the mobile phone detecting drone payload a “game-changing tactical UAS solution,” Andrew Munro, director at Smith Myers, adds:

ARTEMIS turns a mobile phone into a rescue beacon and was designed specifically for SAR and natural disaster situations. This new system can prove vital in emergency circumstances where a rapid response can mean the difference between life and death.

In a press release announcing the availability of the SAR payload, Teledyne FLIR was quick to point out that its R80D SkyRaider and SkyRanger R70 drones are used by military and public safety agencies worldwide. Anne Bulik, VP-UAS at Teledyne FLIR Defense, sums up:

The Echo SAR payload adds a critical new sensory capability to our SkyRaider and SkyRanger platforms. From disaster relief to border security and beyond, we see many applications for small UAS mobile device detection across both our defense and non-defense customer communities.

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