A year before the expected time, scientists from the University of Wrocław have launched an innovative system that will help locate lost people by using images taken by drones. The system is ready to use by the police, fire brigades, border patrol, and rescuers.
The main goal is to support search and rescue operations in the open areas. Thanks to the work of researchers from the University of Wrocław, rescuers will quickly find and reach lost people whose life or health is put in jeopardy due to an injury, accident, illness or difficult weather conditions.
SARUAV consists of two modules – firstly, the probable whereabouts of the lost person is marked and then a drone is sent to this area.
“We need only basic information from the leader of a rescue operation, such as the last known location of the missing person. The data is then analysed by mathematical models that are implemented in GIS (Geographic Information System)”, Professor Tomasz Niedzielski explained.
The second module uses innovative algorithms created by our scientists. It is a unique solution on the international scale. Its task is to analyse aerial photographs and search for objects resembling people. The system is marked by high effectiveness of detecting shapes of human being and distinguish them from other elements of the environment like animals, plants, or rocks.
The only thing that is required in order to process data is a laptop with a good graphics card. During the testing phase, it was necessary to use servers with high processing power but the optimisation done by the programmers has let the system run on a laptop, too. The processing time was significantly reduced to only a few seconds for each photo.
The system was adjusted to the rescuers’ work reality. The scientists were constantly collaborating with the Mountain Rescue Service and Fire Service units during both developing and testing phase. Therefore, the designers focused on the efficiency, mobility, high work speed and functionality – the features that are necessary during rescue operations being conducted in the field and under high time pressure.
The aim of Niedzielski’s team is to deliver a solution that will be possible to be used ubiquitously and in tandem with drones that are already in use by the services. Drones themselves are thus not part of the SARUAV system. It has been designed in such a way that it will be able to work on different devices, including inexpensive ones.
Now, the greatest challenge for our scientists is the diffusion of the product. The authors of the system hope that its implementation will prove that saving lives can be faster and more effective.
SARUAV was released on 20 June 2020. On this day, it was used in the search and rescue training organised by the Specialist Rescue Unit of the Volunteer Fire Department in Wrocław and it was viewed very positively by experts.
The project is being done by SARUAV Sp. z o.o. under the patronage of the University of Wrocław. People who are responsible for the project are Professor Tomasz Niedzielski, Mirosława Jurecka and Dr Bartłomiej Miziński.
The official website of SARUAV: www.saruav.pl