Thermal Drones are saving lives. Freezing night-time winter temperatures make manned search extremely difficult. Drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras such as the DJI Matrice 210 drone with a Zenmuse XT thermal FLIR camera gives thermal eyes in the sky for police and first responders. Thermal drones are becoming increasingly common among public safety agencies and for good reason, a single drone operator can scan large areas of hard to reach land to find people in the darkest of night. A Lincolnshire UK man who crashed his car in freezing night-time temperatures was found by police using a thermal imaging drone.
How do thermal imaging drones work? First off, we must examine how thermal imaging works. All objects radiate energy as infrared waves and as the temperature of an object increases the wavelengths within the spectra of the emitted radiation decrease. Conversely, hotter objects emit shorter wavelengths with a higher frequency. Next, an array of infrared detector elements read the different wavelengths and frequency which is then processed into a visible thermal image.
Thermal cameras used to be large heavy devices with low resolution. Now, these thermal cameras are small enough to fit into a compact size capable of being attached to a drone. Drone manufacturer DJI even works with thermal camera manufacturer, FLIR to make a fully integrated solution. This allows for thermal cameras to be easily attached to DJI Drones, giving users easy plug and play capabilities to use this type of imaging in the field.
With access to this technology available and at a reasonable price point (starting around $6,000) finding missing people in less than ideal situations is easier than ever. Especially when minutes can mean the difference between life and death having a readily deployable drone to scan the missing person area is ideal. Therefore, thermal drones are becoming increasingly popular with police, law enforcement, fire departments, and search & rescue agencies as drones increase the likelihood of finding missing people.
Drones will continue to make the news as more people and rescue teams benefit from search and rescue drones. Vendors such as Dronefly.com and DSLRpros.com will continue to serve this market by curating the best drone solutions and talking with customers to find out what works best. Drone technology will continue to improve and become more efficient leading to increased drone use. Who knows maybe one day, you will be in a situation where the sound of a drone above means safety and getting out alive.