Chinese drone giant DJI believes that the lives of 133 people have been saved by drones worldwide, since it began keeping figures about drone rescues last year.
A previous DJI report revealed that 65 lives were saved by drones in 2017, and so the new figures, released just half way through this year, reveal that life-saving rescues are now running at twice the rate of last year, suggesting that drone deployments by first responders have significantly increased.
In an announcement this morning, the world’s leading consumer/professional drone manufacturer claimed that a new milestone was reached last week, when four people were rescued by drones in a single day, in three separate incidents on two continents.
Police in the UK used a drone with a thermal imaging camera to find a missing, semi-conscious man at the edge of a steep Exmouth cliff face. Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police posted a joint video of the rescue:-
Here's the moment we found a high risk missing person on the cliffs at Exmouth within 8 minutes of being airborne. Saving his life and hours of searching on foot by multiple agencies.#DronesForGood #Drone #Police @DC_Police @dorsetpolice pic.twitter.com/VDdEONFeem
— Alliance Pol Drones (@PoliceDrones) June 6, 2018
Meanwhile, an Indiana fire department dropped a life vest to a criminal suspect who had fled into a pond and was struggling to stay afloat. The Wayne Township Fire Department shared a video of the rescue:-
2577 Kentucky Avenue, one person in the water after fleeing police. Fire Department #UAV 82(Drone) deployed life vest. @IFD_NEWS Dive Rescue Team deployed a boat with @IMPDnews to make pull the individual from the water. pic.twitter.com/aN7hQutfiC
— Wayne Twp Fire Dept (@Waynetwpfire) May 31, 2018
Finally, public safety agencies in Hill County, Texas, dropped a life vest to a mother and her teenage daughter who were stranded in a rising river. News coverage of that incident is online here.
In February this year, two lives were saved in a single day when Lincolnshire, UK, police used a drone to locate and rescue an unconscious man in a ditch, while rescuers in São Paulo, Brazil, used a drone to drop a buoyancy aid to a kitesurfer who had lost his board and was struggling in the water.
Yesterday, DJI announced a partnership with connected policing provider Axon to distribute drones to public safety and law enforcement agencies around the world.
Internet of Business says
Over the past 18 months, DJI has been tracking all of the drone rescues reported on traditional and social media to illustrate the life-saving potential of aerial platforms and imaging technologies. The aim is to demonstrate how wider access to drones helps to improve public safety – and, just as important, could do so to a much greater extent in the future.
The strategy has several advantages. One, it may save more lives and persuade agencies of the value of using drones in first-responder situations to locate people, deliver supplies or life-saving provisions, and map hazardous environments from the air, minimising the risk to rescue services.
Second, it helps change the message about drones, which – photography and enthusiast uses aside – tend to be associated with warfare, risk, and security intrusions by a popular press that is focused on the threat of new technologies, rather than the benefits.
And third, it helps the Chinese manufacturer manage its own reputation at a time when the trade war between the US and China is creating a toxic atmosphere, in which more and more companies are coming under suspicion – including DJI.
However, DJI’s figures are almost certainly an under-estimate. First, many incidents may go unreported, or be missed by popular media. And second, a number of companies are saving lives via other applications of drone technologies.
For example, the ZipLine project in Rwanda is using fixed-wing – non-DJI – drones to deliver medicines and blood supplies to rural areas, in many cases saving the lives of people with common treatable conditions, who are unable to access medical help quickly enough by other means.
ZipLine plans to begin offering similar services in other countries with large, rural populations who may be hours or days from medical help – including the US.