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Pioneering Lifesaving at Sea using Unmanned Aerial Systems

“In the UK last year, more than 53% of SAR helicopter search tasks were either maritime or coastal. Of the 297 searches conducted, 269 were incomplete, resulting in over £4,000,000 being spent on unproductive manned flight time.”

Do you currently use Manned Aerial Systems for your search and rescue missions? It is likely that the answer is yes. Manned Systems are the globally accepted solution even though they are costly, inefficient and significantly increase the risk to your personnel. There is one solution that resolves all these issues, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAV). Using UAV, also known as drones, for initial search missions can save both time and money and have been proven to make missions more successful.

Using UAV for initial search missions is safer, more cost-effective and efficient than helicopters. There are several reasons for this.

UAV can be paired with a variety of different cameras to conduct the initial search. Visual Detection & Ranging (ViDAR) uses HD camera arrays with autonomous learning algorithms, to automatically detect sea surface objects invisible to the human eye, feeding back real-time imagery to ground crews.

Using UAV equipped with ViDAR for search and rescue missions increases the effectiveness by 80% when compared to Manned Systems.

ViDAR has a 20NM search swath and can locate a person in the water at >1.7NM, a 6-person raft at >3.5NM and a 20’ fast boat at >9.1NM. The use of ViDAR makes UAV searches highly efficient. This is because they can cover a significantly greater area than a helicopter can in the same amount of time, ultimately making the initial search much faster.

Whilst the UAV is conducting the initial search, your rescue teams can be on the ground ready to go at a moment’s notice. This reduces the risk for your personnel by keeping them on the ground until the object or person has been located and the rescue mission commences. Less time in the air results in a decreased risk.

Keeping your rescue crew on the ground during the UAV search also results in a 10x cheaper cost as UAV are much cheaper to run per hour than a helicopter.

With £4,000,000 being wasted on unproductive and incomplete search missions per year, it is time to embrace the transition to UAV for initial search missions. They are effective and efficient, quickly scanning a vast area of water to locate objects and people.

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