The future of rescue ops

On August 13, 2014, a simulated rescue operation took place at the Oostdorp Military Base. Two hundred visitors watched as unmanned drones flew over an earthquake hit area, looking for survivors and roadways still accessible by rescue workers.

The exercise was held during the international Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) Competition, as part of the International Micro Air Vehicle Conference 2014. Hosted by the Netherlands for the third time, the conference brought together leading scientists and technology in this area of research. “The kind of technology we witnessed at the competition is what the MAV industry will see five years from today. It was very impressive,” said Bart Remes, a staff member at TU’s MAV laboratory.

Thirteen teams from around the world, comprising universities and companies, participated in the competition. As hosts, TU did not participate. Each team had to create a swarm of rescue drones that could function almost autonomously in adverse conditions. “The aim was to create drones that are small, easily portable, and largely autonomous. Eventually, these drones need to be small enough to fit in a rescue worker’s pocket. When needed they can fly in, map the area and relay relevant information, leaving the rescue workers to focus on actual rescue work.”

A team from Singapore with the most autonomous drone stood first. A team from Germany came second with their small and handy drone design; the team from France in third position had a design that blended both elements well. 

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