20 Nov
Drones Could Be Key to Finding Lost Hikers Drones Could Be Key to Finding Lost Hikers

Drones Could Be Key to Finding Lost Hikers

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Between 2011 and 2014, more than 2,000 search and rescue missions were launched each year as the National Parks Service sought to rescue lost hikers. While many were saved, hundreds died, some due to not being found in time.

Technology may be the answer to that. Finding a lost individual in thousands of miles of tree-covered terrain can be a challenge, especially for the limitations that come with helicopter and ground searches. But through the use of drones, MIT researchers believe lost hikers can easily be spotted so that rescuers can help them. The drones don’t even require GPS ­– they navigate relying on onboard computation and wireless communication.

The drones are equipped with the latest technology to see beneath the dense canopies formed by trees. They use laser range finders to estimate their position and plan their path. The drones navigate the designated area, drawing 3-D maps of the terrain they see along the way. Unlike human searchers, the drones also have the ability to detect areas that have already been searched to avoid circling back to the same spots over and over.

Once implemented, the drones will be equipped with object-detecting software to be able to spot a missing hiker during their travels. In tests, drones were able to map an area about the size of 65 square feet in only two to five minutes, with maps combined in real time.

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Read 4092 times Last modified on Wednesday, 07 November 2018 06:50
Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and novelist whose work has appeared on,, the Intuit Small Business Blog, and many others. She is the Simon & Schuster author of 8 children's books, including the Piper Morgan chapter book series, 25 Roses, and 30 Days of No Gossip.

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