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Video: Self-flying drones could serve as emergency responders

“Swarm drones” can navigate themselves and coordinate with each other, making them potentially useful for high-level rescue missions and more


By FireRescue1 Staff

PHILADELPHIA — A group of engineers has developed self-flying drones that can communicate with each other and act as emergency responders in high-risk situations.

FOX News reported that engineers at the University of Pennsylvania created “swarm drones,” which can navigate themselves and communicate with each other to coordinate action using metric technology.

Researcher Giuseppe Loianno said the drones could work together to make high-level rescues or investigate active scenes or natural disasters, keeping emergency responders safe.

“Imagine in the case of a fire, the drones can be sent,” Loianno said. “The firefighter can remain in a safe area and in real-time receive multiple images in order to plan the team’s next step.”

The drones can weigh as little as less than a pound and up to four pounds, and are equipped with internal applications that help in search and rescue missions.

 “We should really look at these machines as vehicles that can help humans [in emergencies],” Loianno said. “They can locate injured and identify critical points. “It’s like they have eyes.”

What sets these drones apart is that they do not rely on satellite signals and can operate indoors by using an algorithm to perceive their surroundings through cameras and inertial measurement units, which are used in smartphones to detect when the screen orientation changes.

Loianna said that they have tested 12 drones together so far, but that they could soon increase the number of drones that can cluster together.

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