Simulation-Based Drone Assisted Search Operations in a River


      Drones can transmit live video and geographic coordinates during the planning stages for search and rescue operations and the operations themselves. There are few simulation studies in which drones provided rescue support. However, the literature does not contain any simulation studies involving the use of drones to locate lost “victims” represented by dummies in rivers. We developed a simulation model to compare the first visual contact times for drone-assisted search techniques (DAST) and classic search techniques (CST).


      In this prospective experimental simulation study, we used both DAST and CST to perform a series of river searches for unconscious victims (represented by dummies). We calculated the first visual contact times, total scanned area, scanned area per minute, flight-walking distances, and flight-walking speeds and compared the results between both groups. The data are presented as mean±SD.


      We performed 20 search and rescue operations, 10 with the CST and 10 with the DAST. The time to reach the victim was 823±177 s using CST and 80±14 s using DAST. The area scanned by unit time was 3091±54 m2·min-1 using CST and 22,640±1622 m2·min-1 using DAST.


      The drone-assisted search technique located a simulated victim drifting in a river faster than the classic search technique. The use of drones in search and rescue operations could improve the time to find victims.


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