Innovations: Why the Future of Search and Rescue Might Rely …

Every year, Switzerland responds to about 1,000 backcountry search-and-rescue (SAR) emergencies—hikers injured in falls, thrill-seekers who’ve gone missing, campers stranded by rock slides or floods. Currently, the normal way to find people is to dispatch human teams, sometimes into dangerous parts of the Alps. This work is time-consuming; about 10,000 manpower hours are expended annually in Switzerland alone. Emergencies in other trekkers’ paradises, such as Nepal and Peru, only add to the global total. Now, elevating operations off the ground, a team of Swiss researchers has developed an SAR drone. Aerial missions offer several obvious benefits: Drones are relatively cheap these days, several can be released simultaneously to scan different areas in short order, and they don’t place human responders in harm’s way. The newly developed device, however, isn’t like…


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