Normally drones aren’t credited with saving lives. But the Saskatoon Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) reports that their personal drone helped them hunt down an injured car crash victim for rescuing, ultimately saving the poor guy’s life.
Just after midnight Thursday morning, the Saskatoon RCMP recieved an emergency call about a single vehicle rollover off a remote highway. When an ambulence showed up however, the response team was unable to find the victim with conventional tactics, up to and including a ground search in the 200 meters surrounding the crash. After that, they tried a 1000 meter sweep with a helicopter outfitted with night-vision. Still no luck.
The RCMP then enlisted the help of a Canadian police drone, specifically a Dragan Flyer X4-ES equipped with a forward looking infared camera—the same kind of camera that spotted alleged Boston marathon bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev. Finally, two hours after the crash, the RCMP recieved a 911 call from the victim himself, and with GPS coordinates and the drone’s infrared eyes, they were able to find the man. From the RCMP:
Fire/Rescue members located the driver at this first location, curled up in a ball at the base of a tree next to snow bank. He was unresponsive and was quickly brought out to the road by Fire/Rescue and placed in an ambulance and was transported to hospital in Saskatoon. Without the UAV and FLIR, searchers would not have been able to locate the driver until daylight.
We’ve seen rescue-style drones before, but this seems to be the first reported case of a drone playing a direct role in finding an injured person who almost certainly would have died otherwise. A sky full of police drones could have its upside.