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Drones are ideal responders to a disaster, especially when comparing advanced drones and human capabilities. While sending a human onto freshly collapsed rubble risks the rescuer, a drone can fly over the same terrain and, if equipped with the right sensors, hopefully find anyone in peril and guide human rescuers.
A scream-hunting drone may be used for search and rescue missions during disaster. The technology has been developed by the German research institute Fraunhofer FKIE – the Department of Sensor Data and Information Fusion. Survivors typically plead for help by producing impulsive sounds, such as screams, so an accurate acoustic system mounted on a drone focuses on localizing those potential victims, according to popsi.com.
The team built a microphone array, attached it to a drone, and then added another microphone that can pick up larger frequencies than the other, small microphones. Programming the computer to detect screams meant filtering out the other sounds, like the drone’s buzzing rotors, and it meant converting captured audio into location data, by combining readings from the microphone array and determining a direction of the screams.
Nevertheless, identifying and isolating screams is important and tricky. The team has so far shown that in an open field, the drone can estimate a person’s location within a few seconds of hearing the sound, but the drone will need to work in much more acoustically unfriendly environments to truly function as a rescue tool.
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