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A police drone with infrared capabilities ended the search for a missing person with dementia who disappeared from a Delta hospital in Canada, according to a report by Global News.

The police initially received news of a potential sighting of the missing person at a local park, but when they arrived he was nowhere to be seen, so they decided to use a drone equipped with an infrared camera and spotlight. The drone proved extremely useful at searching regions far too large for the police to tackle by foot.

Sgt. Jim Ingram with Delta police told Global News- “The drone allows us to get up very quickly, and then get a lens on an open area… and from there we can narrow our search down, or we can go out and find them in a specific area.”

Eventually, a heat signature on the drone led to pinpointing the missing person’s location, and the drone’s spotlight and zoom cameras were able to confirm that the person spotted was indeed the one that had gone missing. Officials say that this is an absolute game-changer.

Delta police stated that their drones have a variety of applications, but the ones equipped with infrared technology are crucial in “potential life-or-death searches.”

Researchers predicted in 2020 that drones would prove to be an important resource in search and rescue missions, stating in their study published at the time in Nature Machine Intelligence – “In the future, rescuing lost, ill or injured persons will increasingly be carried out by autonomous drones.”

According to Interesting Engineering, the engineers developed drones that specialize in recognizing humans from the environment surrounding them. This was achieved by using a deep learning application to improve the images that are collected by drones.