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.

Jonathan Feist, Drone PilotJonathan Feist

Why trust Drone Rush?

I’ve been a fan of flight since a young age; while I’ve had few opportunities at the helm of manned aircraft, the hours on my fleet of drones continue to grow. I enjoy putting cameras into the sky, silky smooth aerial imagery makes me happy. My goal is to help all pilots enjoy flight legally and safely.

Search and Rescue drones

1. DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise: Purpose built Search & Rescue tools

DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise: Purpose built Search & Rescue tools

DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise at CES 2020

The DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise is a purpose-modified drone for search and rescue operations. Admitting that it is the DJI Mavic 2 airframe, there are software updates and accessory support that take things to new levels. There are a handful of useful tools available, but you’ll only be able to use a few at a time. For example, the powered top accessory port can only support one at a time of the spotlight, loud speaker, or location beacon.

Perhaps the best configuration for most is the dual-camera setup. Combining a zooming 4K camera with an infrared shooter to double your chances at spotting victims in places with minimal visibility.

Pros

  • Compact and familiar drone
  • Infrared and RGB dual camera
  • Multiple interchangeable accessories
  • Good flight time
  • Enhanced system security

Cons

  • One accessory at a time

DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise

(9.6)
  • 31 - MIN
  • 4K - 30 FPS
  • 44 - MPH

2. DJI Matrice 300 series: Multi-purpose camera configurations with precise GPS

DJI Matrice 300 series: Multi-purpose camera configurations with precise GPS

The DJI Matrice 300 RTK is a powerful commercial drone, designed to tackle all of your inspection needs. From a technical perspective, searching for a crack in a bridge, a missing bolt in a cellphone tower, or leaking pipes on an oil rig is practically the same thing as searching for a person that has been lost in the woods. Infrared cameras help identify heat signatures, RGB cameras with zoom lenses help pilots take a closer look at things from afar, and the ability to get above the tree tops to scan a large area all plays a crucial part.

Beyond the basics of a visual inspection, the Matrice 300 RTK has, as the name implies, RTK GPS connectivity. This means it has millimeter precision in the sky, great for both ensuring time is not lost re-scanning an area, and ensuring you know where to send rescue efforts when the drone conducts a successful search.

Pros

  • Multiple payloads
  • Good flight time
  • Versatile cameras
  • Extreme GPS precision

Cons

  • Large drone
  • Best flown with two operators

DJI Matrice 300 RTK

(9.6)
  • 55 - MIN
  • 4K - 30 FPS
  • 51.5 - MPH

3. DJI Matrice 200 series: Almost as good as the M300, for a little less money

DJI Matrice 200 series: Almost as good as the M300, for a little less money

DJI XT2 thermal camera on M200 commercial drone landed

The DJI Matrice 200 series introduced a multi-payload system to DJI’s inspection drone line. Three models are available, with RTK and upward facing camera mount differentiating from the base model. Two hanging payload mounts allow you to choose from several RGB cameras, several infrared cameras, spotlights, loud speakers and more.

Earlier technology created some limitations that are not present on the newer 300 series drone, but this older 200 series is still very reliable and versatile for most inspection and search and rescue needs.

Pros

  • Multiple payloads
  • Optional RTK precision

Cons

  • Large drone
  • Best flown with two operators

DJI Matrice 200 series: 200/210/RTK

(9.5)
  • 38 - MIN
  • 6K - 24 FPS
  • 50 - MPH

February 2017

Release Date

4. Yuneec H520: Hexacopter reliability

Yuneec H520: Hexacopter reliability

The Yuneec H520 is the commercial solution in the Typhoon line of hexacopter drones. Six propellers makes for stable and safe flight, interchangeable cameras allow you to choose the right payload for your operations, and support for open source software mean you can automate a lot of flight tasks.

Unfortunately, the H520 is limited to just one payload attachment at a time, so you will need to choose your camera carefully, potentially requiring you to come back in if you need to swap to infrared.

Pros

  • Hexacopter design
  • Easy to fly
  • Open source flexibility

Cons

  • Limited payloads

Yuneec H520

(9.1)
  • 28 - Minutes
  • 4K - 30 FPS
  • 38 - MPH

September 2017

Release Date

5. DJI Mavic 2 Zoom: Long-distance vision

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom: Long-distance vision

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom logo

That’s not a huge camera on the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom, but it has 4X optical and another 4X digital zoom. The result is the ability to get a closer look at things without having to get the drone too close to the subject. This is ideal for precarious rescue situations, and particularly helpful for covert operations.

The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom is a consumer drone, it has no particular features designed for commercial or rescue operations, but it is a reliable drone with good flight time and a 4K camera that is more than good enough as a set of eyes in the sky.