Rescue brigade Den Helder wants to track down drowning people with drones

The Den Helder Rescue Brigade will start a pilot project at the beginning of May to detect rip currents using drones, locate drowning persons and to be able to drop rescue equipment for swimmers in distress.

The Rescue Brigade Den Helder uses a DJI M300 in the test to initially photograph rip currents. Later, the brigade wants to expand the test to include the detection of test subjects and floating objects in the currents, and then analyze the data obtained using machine learning. The rescue brigade hopes to be able to recognize currents automatically and at an early stage with the insights, in order to be able to take action earlier, take measures and raise the alarm.

Another part of the pilot project is locating drowning persons. According to John Troch of DroneQ Aerial Services, with whom the rescue team works, time is often lost because there is too little concrete information about the location when reporting people who are in emergency situations. Using a drone could speed up localization. Finally, the shedding of life jackets or other flotation devices is tested. In addition, other applications are being investigated, such as the detection of dune fires and the monitoring of people entering protected dune areas.

The initiators hope to be able to use an Autel Dragonfish in the future instead of the DJI drone. The Dragonfish from Autel Robotics is a fixed-wing drone with a flight range of tens of kilometers. It is a project of the Maritime Emerging Technologies Innovation Park Noord-Holland, DroneQ Aerial Services and the Rescue Brigade Den Helder. DroneQ is the drone operator, but in the future the rescue brigade could do this itself, is the thought.