China’s First Emergency UAV Rescue Team

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Earlier this month, China has launched the first-in-the-country emergency rescue team that will use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Beijing Daily reports.

Six UAVs are now primed and ready for rescue missions at the training base of the Ministry of Civil Affairs located in Changping district. The drones in the service come in two types: fixed- and rotary-wing, to cover different mission profile requirements.

The largest of the aircraft has a 2.96 metre wingspan. It is powered by gasoline to reach speeds of 150 km per hour for a maximum flight radius of 200 kilometres with a payload of 5 kg. It has a flight time of three hours at a maximum altitude of four kilometres.

The aircraft can airdrop food, water, and other essential supplies to people in need of assistance. “But it requires the trapped to send their location through a mobile phone,” said a worker of the team. “After we receive the information, we will be able to input the information into the control platform, which then transmits it to the aircraft, allowing it possible to drop the relief material accurately.”

Other aircraft in the arsenal are battery powered with much smaller ranges: between 10 and 50 kilometres.

Although only now officially established, the UAV team has already took on an active role in rescue missions during the Lushan earthquake and the Tianjin blasts.

UAVs will play an active and increasingly important role in future rescue tasks, said Han Guangjian, Deputy Director of the Emergency Rescue Promotion Center with China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs. He predicted that soon similar rescue teams will be set up in other population centres around China.