DEEMI presently has four unmanned aerial platforms. We have the VK-Ranger EX-SAR fixed-wing aircraft, two DJI Inspire 1 UAVs and the Viking VK-FF-X4 multi-rotor copter. The Ranger and the Viking are currently non-operational, needing repair. As such, our Inspire 1’s are a very stable platform and have been used in all missions of late. The Inspire 1 is used by hundreds of first responder and law enforcement agencies across the country.
We have a number of cameras and payloads that can be used or deployed on this remarkable drone, including the standard DJI X3, DJI Z3, and the FLIR XT 640 (30hz, 13mm) cameras. Using a drop mechanism, we are able to drop life vests, clothing, medicine, water, communication tools, etc. to a found victim or person in peril or need. We recently added a high lumen, tactical light to illuminate search areas from the air in remote areas. Finally, we have an underwater sonar device that can be dragged by the Inspire 1 to monitor the bottom of lake or stream if our searching takes us underwater.
While searching for a missing person, we usually use either a grid type search pattern or an active real-time viewing search method. With either method, we record numerous, overlapping high-resolution images that are viewed for content and analyzed for anomalies and objects of interest by an on-site image specialist and, after uploading to a central server, by remote trained analysts.
DEEMI was the first Search and Rescue agency in the country to receive an FAA Part 333 certificate authorizing them to fly a UAV, or drone, for SAR operations. That has expired and we now operate under FAA Part 107 and have an FAA waiver 107.29 with authorization to fly at nighttime.
DEEMI sUAS in the news
Here’s a good video from WABI-TV, Channel 5, Bangor, which focuses on DEEMI Search & Rescue and its use of drones for looking for lost persons and assisting with a water rescue by dropping a life vest to a stranded victim. (click on the thumbnail or here)
AVIATION FOR WOMEN
In this international magazine, SIC UAV pilot Nancy Rimm Staples, is highlighted in an article titled “THE POWER OF DRONES, INSPIRATION FROM A MAINE UAS PILOT”. (to read the article, click on the thumbnail to the left or here)
INSIDE UNMANNED SYSTEMS
In this national magazine dedicated to UAS, DEEMI was highlighted in a special UAS SEARCH & RESCUE article titled “HELP FROM ABOVE” . Article content was provided by DEEMI Director Richard Bowie and Chief UAV pilot Vinal Applebee. (to read the article, click on the thumbnail to the left or here)
DEEMI and SIC UAV pilot Nancy Rimm Staples were highlighted in an article titled “SEARCH AND RESCUE DRONES TAKE FLIGHT”, in this regional magazine. (to read the article, click on the thumbnail to the left or here)
The thermal imaging camera we use is the DJI Zenmuse XT, a FLIR camera. This unit is the higher resolution camera, 640 x 512 pixels with a 13mm lens sampling at 30hz. With this thermal camera, we are not restricted to visual light conditions. A thermal camera will sense heat signatures in daylight or darkness and it will often ‘penetrate’ through tree canopy layers more readily than a visual camera can. Perfect for detecting persons.
Like our other cameras, we post-analyze images from the XT using specialty software from FLIR to optimize the objects of interest and eliminate the non-essential features.
Click on the photo below to view a neat explanatory video of a recent DEEMI practice FLIR mission. (or click here) This video was produced by Nancy Rimm Staples, one of our UAV pilots and owner of Rimm Air, LLC.