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Swarm of Autonomous Search and Rescue Drones

An Electrical Engineering Senior Project

Team Members

Ryan Jaynes, Rudolf Von Niederhausern

Project Date

Spring 2017

Project Description

Swarm technology is a more recent development in modern society that still has many obstacles preventing its widespread use. A swarm is a group of drones, or small aircraft that can be remotely controlled or autonomous. Swarms have the potential to significantly improve the way that search and rescue operations are performed. Many times people will go missing in remote areas, which makes the search and rescue operations difficult and time consuming, in a situation where time is critical to the health of the person involved.
Currently drones have legal restrictions preventing their widespread use in official searches and the amount of manpower involved is still significant. In spite of this in private situations and in special circumstances with official permission drones have helped to save lives. In other cases, after the official investigation has been called off drones have then been allowed to search an area for the body of the lost person. By creating an autonomous swarm that is not piloted by people but could be controlled through a simple program it would greatly enable organizations to find and rescue missing persons more rapidly and with fewer casualties.
Our project involves the creation of a fully automated swarm that will search an area for human beings. The system will be able to detect individuals and alert rescuers to their presence. The overall design considerations would be to equip drones with the sensors and communication hardware necessary to communicate and then program the drones to work together as a team capable of surveying an area quickly and efficiently to identify lost persons.
The overall goal is to create this fully automated swarm to aid and improve the search and rescue efforts that already exist, by removing some of the barriers that oppose drone searches currently. This will be done with an automated swarm because of the low manpower requirement and its ability to direct teams of search and rescue professionals to more promising search areas. This technology will help to foster the cooperation between man and machine to more efficiently and effectively prevent loss of life.