The future of search and rescue

May 11, 2018

Student drone teams wow government and industry at simulated-disaster competition hosted by ASU’s Research Enterprise

The drone threads its way through the disaster area, beneath ceilings and power lines, through narrow corridors, sewer pipes and hallways. Bodies and survivors lie under rubble. When it’s not feeling its way through tight confines, there’s wind to contend with.

Pilot Ryan Davis flies the drone quickly and smoothly. There are no halting or jerky movements.

At each potential location of a survivor, Davis lands and switches on the infrared camera to look for a survivor’s heat signature. The drone doesn’t spend more than 20 seconds at each spot. Then he heads into the sewer pipes.

“Oh boy, look at that,” says an onlooker. “That’s great.”

The disaster area was a gym on Arizona State University’s

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