A new unmanned device has appeared that can detect the screams of people and call rescuers for help. The drone covers a larger area than any ground service.
Engineers from the German Institute Fraunhofer FKIE presented a prototype of a drone that is designed to search for people – it hears and understands screams and can identify other signs that a person needs help. One of the leading engineers, Macarena Varela, showed the device at the annual conference of the Acoustic Society of America.
“Drones can cover a large area in a short period of time – more than lifeguards or trained dogs on the ground,” Varela said. “If there is a collapsed building in the area, he can alert and help rescuers.”
Unmanned aerial vehicles or drones are commonly used for search and rescue operations during natural disasters. Most often, they take aerial photographs of structural damage. Some are equipped with thermal imaging for scanning bodies, while larger drones can deliver medical supplies and other items to people in isolated areas.
Locating people with aerial acoustics is not easy. The auditory system must decode human cries and sounds and distinguish them from animal cries or wind noise. The device also detects patterns of sounds that are inherent in whistles, kicks, and claps – actions with which people try to attract attention.
The engineers took these situations into account when creating the drone. They first trained him on the existing database of “impulsive” human sounds. The researchers then recorded their screams, knocks, and other sounds that might be inherent in people in distress. Researchers analyzed each sound frequency to find commonalities and used them to train AI.