CES 2018 dr Rescue robotics

When a life is on the line, any drone can be a search and rescue drone. Putting a camera into the sky can be invaluable, delivering first aid materials can save lives, so any drone that can carry those things is a good search and rescue drone to me. That said, there are machines on the market that are designed to handle the various aspects and difficulties of saving lives, let’s take a look at a few of them.

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, don’t forget to follow local flight laws and get clearance for the airspace, if required. Saving a life is extremely important, just make sure you are not endangering others in your efforts.

  • Enterprise
    More Info

    DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise

    (9.6)
    $1999.00 BUY
    • 31 - MIN
    • 4K - 30 FPS
    • 44 - MPH
    • 4.3 - MILES
    Building off of the Mavic 2 platform, the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise offers new cameras and new accessories such as lights, speakers and beacons.
  • Inspection
    More Info

    DJI Matrice 200 series: 200/210/RTK

    (9.5)
    $6500.00 BUY
    • 38 - MIN
    • 6K - 24 FPS
    • 50 - MPH
    • 5 - MILES
    DJI designed the Matrice 200 series to offer a versatile set of inspection capabilities. Choose from various payloads and mounting points to look up, down...
  • Commercial
    More Info

    Yuneec H520

    (9.1)
    $1999.00 BUY
    • 28 - Minutes
    • 4K - 30 FPS
    • 38 - MPH
    • 1 - MILE
    Yuneec's reliable hexacopter hardened for the commercial market, the Yuneec H520 is ready for your inspection tasks and more.
  • DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

    (9.5)
    $1299.00 BUY
    • 31 - MIN
    • 4K - 30 FPS
    • 44 - MPH
    • 4.3 - MILES
    Along with the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, the Mavic 2 Zoom is one of the safest drones in the sky. You'll enjoy the flight with...
  • DJI Mavic 2 Pro

    (9.7)
    $1449.00 BUY
    • 31 - MIN
    • 4K - 30 FPS
    • 44 - MPH
    • 4.3 - MILES
    DJI called the Mavic 2 Pro an iterative update over the original Mavic Pro; It may look like a simple upgrade, but the Mavic 2...

What makes a good search and rescue drone?

CES 2018 dr Rescue robotics drone

As mentioned, if all you need is a camera in the sky, than the drone with the best range and battery life is the one you want. For a more thorough operation, a great drone for search and rescue will be equipped with multiple cameras, be able to haul a light, be strong enough to haul some medical supplies and maybe offer a way to communicate. That’s a good start, at least.

When we talk about multiple cameras, we are thinking of several things. First, a FPV camera for the pilot is a solid start, perhaps then a secondary camera controlled by a secondary operator. If nothing else, a secondary camera that sees a new view from what the pilot sees, even if only a GoPro or something pointing backwards on the drone. Taking things to the next level, infrared is the tool of choice for inspection and law enforcement. When looking for a lost hiker, being able to see a heat signature in the bush might be the only indication there is someone there.

Not many drones are equipped with a payload drop system, but an attached first aid kit can easily be removed from the machine if you can land close to the rescue target.


Let’s pause for a toy drone break:


I don’t think I have to explain what spot lights are for, but I will explain communication. The DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise, for example, has an optional loud speaker. The speaker plays a pre-recorded message, which could be instructions, or just words of encouragement. Of course, law enforcement might share a different message over their speaker.

Great off-the-shelf search and rescue drones

Enterprise

DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise

October 2018

Release Date

After finding success with the second version of the Mavic Pro, along came the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise, using the same platform as the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom, but adding mounting points for accessories. The accessories are designed for tasks such as search and rescue, with a spotlight, loud speaker, beacon and more. Available in two versions, the Zoom Edition uses the same camera as the Mavic 2 Zoom, and the Dual Edition adds a thermal camera to the mix, but removes zooming from the visual camera.

DJI did not initially display the purchase price for the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise, we understand it has a starting price of $1999, the accessories are added from there.

Inspection

DJI Matrice 200 series: 200/210/RTK

February 2017

Release Date

When DJI re-imagined their commercial drone platform, they had inspection services in mind. Previous drones struggled with looking up, so DJI added a mount to point a camera up. Previous drones struggled with only having room for one payload, so DJI put three mount points, and thus the DJI Matrice 200 series was born. The Matrice 200 is the started machine, a quadcopter that accepts two bottom mounted payloads. The Matrice 210 adds a third mount on top of the drone, for an upward facing camera. The Matrice 210 RTK adds in that crucial GPS performance for demanding environments and precision operations.

These are powerful, fast and weather resistant drones that are almost custom order from DJI. Budget about $6,500 to get started, with a full flight package of the 210 RTK running north of $10,000.

Commercial

Yuneec H520

September 2017

Release Date

After some success with the hexacopter design, Yuneec decided to head over to the commercial drone market with the Yuneec H520. A commercial-grade, folding machine that ships in construction orange. A range of payloads are available, mostly allowing the H520 to serve your inspection, surveying, mapping and search and rescue needs. Retractable landing gear allow 360 degree rotation of the camera, and the platform promises stability, even in high winds.

The Yuneec H520 alone costs less than $2000, but you should expect to pay around $4000 for a full flight package with multiple batteries and a camera or two.

Zoom

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

August 2018

Release Date

If you run down the spec sheet, the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro are the same machine, with one major exception, the camera. The folding quadcopter design offers great portability, the multi-direction obstacle avoidance sensors assist in safe flight and the new capabilities of OcuSync 2.0 add versatility for control and accessories. That is true for both of the drones, the Mavic 2 Zoom, on the other hand, rocks a 2x optical zoom lens on top of a 12MP camera. It shoots 4K video at 100Mbps and can digitally double that zoom for an impressive close-up.

Launching with a price of $1299, plus $319 for a Fly More kit, the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom was an instant crowd favorite.

Pro

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

August 2018

Release Date

Introduced in August of 2018, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro instantly became the best consumer-class folding drone that DJI had to offer. A marked upgrade over the original Mavic Pro, the Mavic 2 Pro rocks a 1-inch camera sensor for 4K video capture at 100Mbps, multi-direction obstacle avoidance sensors for some of the safest drone flight possible, and much more. OcuSync 2.0 enhances connectivity to the remote control and other accessories, now able to transmit 1080p live stream video well beyond the legal line-of-sight.

With an initial launch price of $1449, plus another $319 to get the Fly More kit with extra batteries, there is a barrier to entry with this machine, but if the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is within your budget, we think you will not be disappointed.

Uvify IFO-S

UVify IFO ready to go

One of the core purposes for the UVify IFO-S is for search and rescue. In addition to being able to custom build your IFO with the cameras and accessories you need most for your operations, the drone is made to fly in a swarm. This is harder to obtain waivers for, but once cleared, the ground station can handle dozens of IFO-S soaring over an area at once. One flying camera might take 20 minutes to cover a square mile of ground, fifty IFO-S can do it in a couple minutes. That’s the theory at least.

Learn more about the UVify IFO-S


In the end, there are dozens of drones that can handle a search and rescue operation. We did not talk about waterproofing today, please keep that in mind as you outfit your search and rescue fleet. That said, we really think the DJI M200 series drones are the most robust offering for a search and rescue drone, it is an investment to equip fully, and is a larger machine, but the weather protection features and versatility for camera mounts is second to none as I write this. Just don’t forget that you can custom build a commercial drone to your exact needs, so consider that if you have the budget to do so.

Fly safe!