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With a higher height of eye being so crucial to search and rescue (SAR) operations, an aerial vehicle is an essential asset for searching. The current solution in the UK relies on the costly involvement of Her Majesty’s CoastGuard (HMCG) SAR helicopter service provided by Bristow. Rapid advances in technology have enabled more capability to be placed on smaller unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) airframes, including similar human detection sensors that are present on-board the SAR helicopters.

However, at present, there’s a lot of noise coming from this burgeoning UAV market. Several organisations are claiming to offer “search and rescue drones”, yet seem to be simply transferring a consumer UAV into the SAR market without any or very little adaptation. SAR teams have very specific requirements that need to be fully understood before producing a product for this end user, the wrong UAV could become a hindrance to their practices. The SkyBound Rescuer Project has been set up by SkyBound Innovations with the aim of bringing clarity and evidence to this noisy environment. Two years of research has already been accumulated and will be shared throughout this blog. As the graphic above demonstrates, we will be researching into a wide variety of SAR fields as we understand that each emergency service has specific needs and requirements, thus shouldn’t be grouped as one entity. However, your objective is all the same; to bring help to those in need as effectively and efficiently as possible and to ensure the lives of those responding are as safe as possible; we at The SkyBound Rescuer Project strongly believe that UAVs – when the right one is chosen and used effectively – can help achieve this for all teams around the world.

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Our main aims for The SkyBound Rescuer Project are:

  • To bring clarity to SAR UAVs for the SAR community
  • To provide the research and evidence necessary for effective SAR UAV use
  • To find the best UAV characteristics for each response team
  • To find out whether or not UAVs can compete with the sophistication of the SAR helicopters
  • To find the best practices for UAV operations within SAR
  • To find the best form of training for UAV SAR operations

Once the above information has been collated and analysed, UAVs hold the potential to offer a tantamount quality of aerial vehicle to the current SAR helicopter solution for a fraction of the incurred cost; reducing the strain on agency budgets whilst arguably being a more responsible approach to SAR practices from an environmental, ecological, and human risk perspective. The SkyBound Rescuer Project are committed to making effective SAR UAV use a reality.