Rescue drones in Serbia drones that can prevent disasters

(ORDO NEWS) — Today, drones are widely used for both commercial and industrial purposes. Shooting from a bird’s eye view is in demand in geodesy, cartography, the oil and gas and mining industries, and agriculture.

Drones are actively used by special services in many countries of the world. They become excellent helpers for rescuers when searching for missing persons, floods, high waters or forest fires. The peculiarity of drones is that they can be used both in tandem with manned aircraft and independently, completely eliminating the presence of a person.

The employees of the Center for Management in Crisis Situations of the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center were no exception. For several years now, together with the rescuers of Serbia, they have been using unmanned technologies to search for and prevent emergencies, as well as their consequences.

We spoke with Alexei Bartosh, Deputy Director of the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center, to learn more about the use of drones in this area.

Tell us, how long have drones been used in the Central Control Center at the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center?

The center has become actively using drones for work in 2021, as the need for accurate forecasting and faster response to emergencies has increased.

The choice fell on the standard model DJI Mavic Air, which made it easier to learn and get the first skills in working with the drone.

What is the main area of ​​application of the UAV? Prevention and forecasting of emergencies, search and rescue operations?

For us, the main thing is to quickly assess the scale in the event of an emergency using a visual inspection. This is necessary for planning the forces and means of rescuers of the Emergency Sector of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia (MES) with the participation of our task force.

Then we decided to expand this direction and began to use drones in other events. For example, when assessing the consequences of forest fires in mountainous and hard-to-reach areas. The use of a drone greatly facilitates the visualization of the boundaries of a fire, the extent of damage and the speed of data processing.

This image shows the aftermath of a large forest fire in a remote area. As part of the test task, we created a map of this site at the current moment with a “fresh” picture, data on the area and elevation changes.

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To do this, we went to a point as close as possible to the desired area (the distance from the “first frame” point is 940 meters), opened the laptop, built a route map and sent the drone to work.

Of course, the first time it was a little scary to send him this far. But given the weather conditions, a good reception signal, we still hoped that we would not lose it and, if necessary, we would find it.

Surveying a given area (40 hectares) took a little less than 40 minutes. Then the material was uploaded to the cloud for further calculations, directly from the point of presence. The results are visible in the photographs.

As a result, thanks to shooting from a drone, the work time of the team of fire inspectors and surveyors was reduced. Therefore, after the test flight, as you understand, our choice was DJI. Of course, we took into account the small flight autonomy of the DJI Mavic Air, but the speed and quality of the camera suited us.

You can see the height difference in the picture. Considering it, it is easier to plan further activities.

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Another case turned out to be closer to the “combat” situation, when both speed and accuracy of calculations were required. In order to prevent emergencies during floods in populated areas, it was necessary to perform a number of tasks: to calculate the consequences of a possible flooding of the area in the area of ​​the confluence of two rivers during prolonged precipitation, taking into account previous experience.

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With the help of DJI Mavic Air, a topographic survey of this area was made from a height of 270 meters. The data was sent to the “cloud” of the International Civil Defense Organization (ICDO), where specialists calculated the options for raising the water level in the river, followed by forecasting the flooding of the settlement and infrastructure.

Rescue drones in Serbia drones that can prevent disasters 5Overlaying updated data on the previous layer from public sources

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Option for the development of events when the water level rises, taking into account the height difference
As for orthophotos, I would say that this is my favorite type of drone work. In the photo below, a section of a mountain village was taken. As part of the training, the task was to calculate the possible options for the movement of mudflows in the event of an emergency.
In some cases, it is important for us to quickly understand how exactly the mudflow or water from the river will flow if a flood begins, what we need to pay attention to.
And if there is a threat of an emergency situation, the employees of the TsUKS operational group need to advance to the point, survey the area, build an orthophotomap and send it to the “cloud” to rescuers.
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Building an orthophotomap for a specific area

What difficulties or features of the use of drones have you encountered?

In any country, there are certain prohibitions at the state level for the use of drones. We need to get permission to take off, the drone must be certified. It is also necessary to take into account flight zones and altitudes.

An important fact is the peculiarities of the local relief. We live surrounded by mountains, and often have to travel to the mountains for training. Here you have to visually control each flight, not really relying on the sensor system.

It often happens that the signal is blocked by the mountain and the connection with the drone is lost. You probably know this aching feeling when you are waiting for either the return of the drone in RTH (return to home) mode, or the approximate azimuth along which you will now climb through the mountains and thickets in search.

However, I want to say right away that so far there have been no such situations. You have to give Mavic credit – he always comes home.

Are you planning to expand your unmanned aircraft fleet?

Yes, we plan to expand our fleet with the purchase of two DJI Mavic Enterprise Advanced with a complete set: a FLIR thermal imaging camera, a loudspeaker and a flashlight.

The autonomy time for a drone is very important to us. We haven’t swung at large drones yet, we are honing our skills on medium models.

We plan to organize training for the operational group to search for victims in the mountains, in large open spaces, conduct training with drones in order to obtain information in a single center (CUC) in case of large-scale emergencies. Thank God, in most cases we have only training.

We also have an idea this summer to conduct test trials to clear the “dirty” area using a drone and a thermal imaging camera. This technology allows you to build a map of the “dirty” area with a coordinate grid and make an initial “cast” of the thermal trace from mines.

In other words, in the warm season, a drone using a thermal camera can see the exact location of mines that heat up from the sun and leave a thermal trail, and subsequently neutralize them.

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The interview was prepared by the editors of the company of unmanned solutions DJI in Russia and the CIS countries Skymec especially for Popular Mechanics

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