It’s not as bad as it sounds like, the drones are actually for a really good cause. This team of German engineers is actually training drones to seek out screaming humans, but not just any screaming humans. People who have been trapped under rubble or hard to reach and navigate areas after a disaster, tend to scream for help and that’s where this drone comes in. If they actually perfect this, it could significantly help disaster relief.
The drone is being developed by a team from Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing, and Ergonomics or FKIE in Germany. The main goal of the drone is to seek out trapped individuals in a natural disaster locale and environment. These drones aim to help and reinforce rescue efforts in such situations. Details about these drones were discussed during a press release by FKIE.
Macarena Varela from Fraunhofer FKIE said that “Our project is an ongoing project, so we are still doing a lot of testing. We have already successfully detected and angularly located impulsive sounds very precisely near distances with the presence of drone noise. We will be testing the system on a flying drone to measure impulsive sounds, such as screams, and process the data with different methods to also estimate the geographical positions of the sounds”.
The drones are outfitted with an array of microphones which the team calls the Crows’ Nest Array. This array is combined with beamforming and other array processing techniques to enhance its range and listening capabilities. Though it will be interesting to see how the Crows’ Nest handles echoes and sounds bouncing off the environment. Pinpointing the origin of a sound can be tricky in situations where the survivors are trapped under rubble.
However, Valera assured that they’ll be working on the noise filtering, saying that “We have a lot of experience in filtering noise, such as wind noise, extremely loud helicopter noise, ground vehicles noise, and more. We use different types of filters to be able to reduce noise, and we use diverse detection procedures to extract the signals of interest, such as impulsive sounds or screams”.
Though finding a disaster survivor with pinpoint accuracy might be too much to ask, just picking up on their voices or in this case, screams to get a general location would make rescue efforts that much faster. Every minute counts when it comes to disaster situations and this drone tech could be a game-changer.