The Spanish company Hemav has developed a search and rescue drone to look for people and boats in the open sea. The project is in collaboration with NGO Proactiva Open Arms, which is doubling its area of reach and wishes improve outcomes for its rescue missions.
As reported by the company and the NGO, the drones will work autonomously through different areas of the Mediterranean Sea to cover a larger area and ensure continuous monitoring.
As explained by project coordinator Sergi Tres, “The developed drone has the ability to detect vessels and people by using thermal sensors.
“Once the target is located, it instantly sends images to the base ship, where action decisions are made. When the battery runs out, the drone returns to the ship and automatically lands.”
The project, named ‘Freeda’, allows control of the drone from a remote place as close to the coast the NGO’s ship can legally be without endangering the crew. Hemav’s drone flies the long distances needed to make large sweeps, extending the range of tracking.
According to Tres, using several drones at the same time it is possible to have a practically permanent surveillance of large areas of the Mediterranean Sea and significantly reduce the number of shipwrecks.
Currently, Open Arms sends the boats when they are about 20 nautical miles from the target. The drone however can be deployed almost at the same time that the warning is received, and can travel at a speed higher than that of the boats, resulting in a faster response time to start a sweep, quickly detect the target and send its coordinates.
During 2017, 13.3% of rescues in the Mediterranean were carried out by Open Arms.
The Open Arms coordinator, Gerard Canals, explained to Eldiario that, “With the application of the UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) platform, we can duplicate the area we control and the area in which most of the the rescues (about 3,000 square meters) will be under continuous surveillance.”
The Spanish company Hemav, which has been listed as the largest precision agriculture drone operator and fourth largest overall in the world, according to Drone Industry Insights, was formed in 2012 by seven young aeronautical engineers from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia.
In 2014 they made a first round of investment of 450,000 euros, which broke previous crowdfunding records in Spain.
In 2016 Hemav carried out another round of investment for 3 million euros, which has allowed it to begin its international expansion.