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Drones to the rescue: Live-Demonstration successfully concludes Project VISION

  • Project VISION, funded by the BMVI, showed off its progress during a successful end demonstration.
  • Its goal was to support emergency services by processing and supplying live data captured by autonomous integrated UAV
  • The system proved its value to the end users

In Project VISION, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) support rescue forces in emergency situations with a live feed of situational information. With a real-life demonstration hosted by Feuerwehr Dortmund, the project is nearing its successful ending.

Alexander Spieshöfer, Promoter TÜV Rheinland, Dirk Aschenbrenner, President of Feuerwehr Dortmund and Johanna Holsten, CEO of flyXdrive at the VISION end demonstration

On 04.11.2021, Feuerwehr Dortmund showed with a live demonstration at the IKEA distribution center in Dortmund how unmanned aerial systems can support time critical rescue operations efficiently. Drones were used to supplement situational awareness during a scenario of searching for a missing person with a vague location specification, as well as during a simulated ABC-situation of an incident involving dangerous substances inside a storage facility. The captured information was streamed live to the end user via LTE. The missing person was quickly found to be in a nearby field by the tiltwing drone, using an infra-red camera. Through aerial video streamed by this same AUS, the fire department chief was able to obtain an overview of the situation at the storage facility before the rescue forces arrived, allowing the rescue workers to act correspondingly immediately upon arrival. Another drone, being suited for indoor flight, mapped out the building from the inside. This allowed the rescue workers to determine the number of wounded subjects, as well as the right way to reach these subjects.

Early and ongoing risk assessment

Within Project VISION, funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) through the mobility fund mFUND, Feuerwehr Dortmund adds the practical application to the research topic. They defined the requirements for using unmanned aerial vehicles in emergency situations. The goal of the project, which started in 2018, is to use drones for capturing and updating the situational overview of both in- and outdoor emergencies. This entails integrating the UAS into the airspace, automating flight planning, execution, and data processing, as well as supplying the rescue team with live streamed and recorded pictures, videos and information through a web-cloud application.

This application of UAS enables emergency services to monitor and evaluate the development of dangerous situations even faster and more complete based on streams with replay capabilities. Using such precise and fast information services, the right size of rescue team can be sent to the site of emergency with more precision and can act immediately upon arrival. With this successful live demonstration, the consortium has proven the added value for rescue forces, laying the groundwork for further development in this field.

Highly skilled expert team

Project team after the successful demonstration

Project VISION was implemented by a consortium of research, industry, and representatives of rescue forces. The project was managed by flyXdrive GmbH from Aachen, which also provided the tilt-wing UAV. From RWTH Aachen, the Institute of Flight System Dynamics supplied additional experience with UAVs. The multirotor used to explore interior spaces was developed and built by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. The Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH, building on multiple years of experience in the field, implemented the safe airspace integration of the UAVs. The user data processing chain and cloud application was developed by M4Com System GmbH from Salem. Deutsche Telekom AG ensured the required connectivity of the UAV with their cellular network and supplied the cloud infrastructure for data processing as well as expertise on data protection. As representatives of the emergency services, the Institut für Feuerwehr- und Rettungstechnologie from Feuerwehr Dortmund defined the project requirements from a practical user perspective and supported the execution of the various test scenarios.

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