A panel discussion on how UAVs can be used by the emergency services.
Day one of The Commercial UAV Show was rounded off by a panel, consisting of chairman Lambert Dopping-Hepenstal and four emergency service experts. Their discussion was focused on how the ‘unmanned hero’ are currently being used within the emergency services, and what roles they could occupy in the future.
How do they help?
Today, the police are already using drones to inspect bomb threats, reducing potential risk to their officers, and mountain rescue teams are also using UAVs to search for missing hikers and rock climbers. The verdict for the future was clear: UAVs could potentially be put to use in every emergency service department. The police, fire departments, medical departments, coast guards, mountain rescue – every single one could benefit from UAVs in a number of different ways.
How can they help?
One particular area of interest for the panel was how much equipment you could attach to the vehicle – every member agreed that a drone with a camera, speaker and microphone included would be of use to every of their respective departments. Machines like that would massively improve mountain rescue operations, the police could use them to communicate with potentially threatening individuals such as suicide bombers, and the fire brigade could use them to advise individuals trapped in hazardous environments.
What’s stopping them?
The panel also unanimously agreed that is a misconception that regulators are standing in the way of their progress. The majority of moderators and courts do in fact recognise how useful UAVs could be and are doing their upmost to help the emergency services wherever they can.
Cost is much more of a limiting factor – the most advanced UAV models are far from cheap. There is also the fear that, if a department was to heavily invest in UAVs without them being an instant success, it would result in a massive media backlash. However, going by the current evidence this fear is fairly irrational – UAVs that have already been used have proven themselves to be extremely successful.
The panel concluded that the real game changer will be one single well publicised event, where a UAV involved in a rescue will be highlighted by the media and shown off to the general public.
Let’s just hope that it’s a positive event that attracts media attention first, and not a disastrous one.
Find out what else you missed at The Commercial UAV Show, where 1600 people attended to learn who uses UAVs and how…