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A lost person is found! – spectacular success of drones and the SARUAV system

When saving human’s life every second matters. The SARUAV system, elaborated by scientists of the University of Wrocław, helped to save a person who was lost in the mountains – this is the first use case which confirms that a theoretical concept has been proven in real life. On 29 June 2021, the man who was reported missing in Beskid Niski (SE Poland) has been rescued due to the use of the SARUAV system for the unsupervised detection of lost persons, the early prototype of which has been elaborated at the University of Wrocław.

– It is a breakthrough for us. It shows that our efforts and resources have not been missed, but were highly valuable even for this single life – says Wojciech Pawul, rescuer of Bieszczady Mountain Rescue, and evaluates SARUAV: – We thank for the contribution you provided for saving this life. I am glad to cooperate and help people with such partners.

Many years of research, initiated at the University of Wrocław and continued by the technological spin-off company SARUAV Ltd. which works under the patronage of this University, have just been crowned by the success measured neither by research papers nor patents – a human life has been saved.

Over the search mission in Beskid Niski, which last as long as 24 hours, the SARUAV system has been utilized, and it automatically spotted a missing man in aerial imagery acquired by a camera installed onboard an unmanned aerial vehicle. The system has been used by rescuers of Bieszczady Mountain Rescue. The place suggested by the SARUAV detector has been verified by an analyst in the SARUAV verification panel and, as a result, the rescuers have been asked to reach this place immediately. The lost person has been found on time, and transported by Bieszczady Mountain Rescue group to a Medical Emergency Service. The action took place on 29 June 2021, and it fits the SARUAV motto which reads as “to arrive on time”.

The SARUAV system has its foundations at the University of Wrocław. Its early prototype has been elaborated by Prof. Tomasz Niedzielski and his research group: Dr Mirosława Jurecka and Dr Bartłomiej Miziński. The authors decided to set up a spin-off company, the aim of which was the development of the prototype and, predominantly, the elaboration of new methodical and technological solutions in the field of automating searches for missing people using drones. This technological company elaborated the detector which helped to rescue the person who was lost in Beskid Niski. Also, the enterprise produced the SARUAV software that helps rescuers in search missions with the use of drones.

– Detecting alive person due to skills of the SARUAV system is a capstone of long-standing scientific work of my research team – says Prof. Tomasz Niedzelski, CEO for SARUAV Ltd. and a member of academic staff of the University of Wrocław. – We have shown that geoinformation technologies have a tremendous practical potential and may be useful not only for scientists, but also for all citizens. I believe that the underappreciated potential of IT solutions for crisis management services will soon be noticed in many areas of our life.

The story of SARUAV Ltd. confirms the validity of the model which promotes transfer of knowledge and technology. More than two years ago, the seed-capital fund ERC Ltd., which conducts a project in frame of the Bridge Alfa programme of the National Centre for Research and Development, invested in SARUAV Ltd. Due to the investment and due to the project itself it was possible to elaborate the fully Polish technology which has been implemented in the economic and social practice. Its skills and novelty have just been confirmed. SARUAV is the first comprehensive system for detecting human in aerial images taken by drones over open terrain in the wilderness.

Published by: Agata Sałamaj

1 Jul 2021

last modification: 1 Jul 2021