Public Service

Drones Make Their Way into SAR Missions

By Staff Writer | October 4, 2016

Mainly known for their recreational applications or aerial photography, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are making their way into search and rescue (SAR) missions. 

On Oct. 12, one session will explore how rotorcraft businesses are integrating them into their operations. Speaking at this session will be Irish military helicopter instructor Capt. Oisin McGrath. He co-founded DroneSAR Ltd., which is developing the first SAR app to use with drones.

“A number of persons are trying to design SAR UAVs,” said McGrath, “but we think the user can better choose the platform they work with.” The app will work with any DJI drone.


DJI produces multi-rotor drones, on which the app is based. The app offers dedicated SAR functionalities such as repeatable aerial search patterns, live video feed and recordable go-to points.

The app allows for drones to go on an early-stage aerial search ahead of rescue teams, saving time and reducing risk.

DroneSAR, as the app is named, is working in cooperation with Donegal Mountain Rescue in Ireland, DJI and the European Emergency Number Assn. (EENA) NGO. In April, DJI and EENA announced a joint project to help train first responders with UAVs, with trials that began this summer.

By remotely monitoring the video sent by the drone, crews can make informed decisions. 

The company is working on powerful tools such as infrared, thermal imaging and color recognition. 

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