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Drone helps Alps search and rescue teams

A drone that can fly into the world’s deepest crevasses could help save the lives of mountaineers.

Swiss company Flyability said its robot, called Elios, can reach places too dangerous for humans.

It joined forces with the Zermatt Glacier Mountain Rescue team to test fly one into a large crack in the ice in Courmayeur, Italy.

The drone was able to navigate deep, dark and narrow spaces.

During a rescue reconstruction, it surveyed the area with an attached thermal imaging camera which helped it locate “the victim” in the crevasse.

The footage was fed back in real-time to the team monitoring the situation above the ice.

Those behind the technology said it helped the team to reach the person more quickly and by showing them the terrain also meant they could be better prepared.

Thermal imaging and tracking on drones is not new to the market but Flyability said it is other features which make it so unique.

Flyability’s Marc Gandillon said: “It is unique in the market because of a very simple thing – the gimbal in the middle allows the drone to be decoupled so the cage protecting it can rotate freely around the drone, and technically what it brings to the drone is the ability to have a collision with an obstacle and for it to remain stable.”

But just how practical would it be in a real-life situation?

Chamonix Experience mountain guide and former PGHM rescuer Sebastien Rougegre said it would be useful but weather conditions could prevent the drone from being used at all.

“Most of the rescues we were doing were at night with strong winds and in fog so I don’t know if this would be a limitation for the drone but I think everybody would be able to get a lot of help from this kind of technology,” he said.

The market for this kind of technology also extends to industrial inspection and to security – when it would be safer to send a robot in to assess a situation first.

But the cost of these drones might limit when man can rely on machine to help.

Source and watch video: Sky News

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