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Requirements and Limitations of Thermal Drones for Effective Search and Rescue in Marine and Coastal Areas

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Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, Brownlow Hill, Liverpool L3 5RF, UK
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School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Byrom Street, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK
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Faculty of Science, Liverpool John Moores University, Byrom Street, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK
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Engineering and Technology Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, 3 Byrom St, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Drones 2019, 3(4), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones3040078
Received: 5 July 2019 / Revised: 4 October 2019 / Accepted: 6 October 2019 / Published: 14 October 2019
Search and rescue (SAR) is a vital line of defense against unnecessary loss of life. However,
in a potentially hazardous environment, it is important to balance the risks associated with SAR
action. Drones have the potential to help with the efficiency, success rate and safety of SAR operations
as they can cover large or hard to access areas quickly. The addition of thermal cameras to the drones
provides the potential for automated and reliable detection of people in need of rescue. We performed
a pilot study with a thermal-equipped drone for SAR applications in Morecambe Bay. In a variety
of realistic SAR scenarios, we found that we could detect humans who would be in need of rescue,
both by the naked eye and by a simple automated method. We explore the current advantages and
limitations of thermal drone systems, and outline the future path to a useful system for deployment
in real-life SAR. View Full-Text
Keywords: search and rescue; thermal infrared; astro-ecology search and rescue; thermal infrared; astro-ecology
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MDPI and ACS Style

Burke, C.; McWhirter, P.R.; Veitch-Michaelis, J.; McAree, O.; Pointon, H.A.; Wich, S.; Longmore, S. Requirements and Limitations of Thermal Drones for Effective Search and Rescue in Marine and Coastal Areas. Drones 2019, 3, 78.

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