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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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Award for life-saving search and rescue drone project

A pioneering search and rescue drone trial aimed at saving lives on Cumbrian fells has been named one of the best designs of the year.

Search drone photo

The drone – an unmanned remote controlled device – was designed by experts from the University of Central Lancashire, working with Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team.

It has been chosen by the Design Museum in London as one of the best designs of 2013.

The system involves beaming images to anyone logged onto the AeroSee web application who can then tap or click on any area of the image where they think they have spotted someone injured on the mountainside.

The intelligence, which includes references and GPS location data, is then relayed to the team at base, who assess the images before sending the drone back for a closer look if they believe someone is in danger.

When it was tested during one day in July, 335 people, from 25 countries, “found” a 'missing hiker' in just 69 seconds. In total, 100 images were tagged per minute.

Dr Darren Ansell, space and engineering lead in the school of computing, engineering and physical sciences with the university, said: “The design for the aeroSee system – combining the flying vehicle with the power of an online community – proved to be a really effective and elegant solution.

“It has the potential to support a lot of civic duties in the future, such as supporting more search and rescue teams, assisting the fire services and helping with wildlife conservation.

“At UCLan we are proud to be nominated for this design award and excited about the potential for aeroSee.”

The drone will be showcased at the London museum from next month until August.

Mike Blakey, Patterdale team leader, said: “Drones may turn out to be a useful addition to our toolbox in some search situations.”

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