A high-tech police drone took mere seconds to find a vulnerable missing woman lying unconscious at the edge of a dark field in England on Nov. 4.
“A traditional search could have taken hours, but our drone was able to find her within seconds of taking off with its thermal imaging camera,” said Nottinghamshire Police. “The technology allows us to search very large areas in very short space of time and can be deployed very quickly when needed.
“This was a great bit of work by all the officers involved and further proof of the potentially life-saving impact of drone technology.”
Police said the woman, whose name was not disclosed, was reported as missing from her home and was believed to be in the area of Belvoir Castle on the Leicestershire border.
“Concerns were raised for her welfare, and officers from Nottinghamshire Police’s drones team were called in to help with the search,” police said.
“The force’s main drone took off shortly before 11:40 p.m. and within seconds its high-tech thermal imaging camera had identified the woman at the edge of a field. Officers on the ground were immediately dispatched to help her. She was later treated by paramedics but was not seriously hurt.”
The drone footage shows the moment the woman is detected at the edge of the field on the dark, rainy night, apparently lying motionless on the ground.
Within seconds, two police officers are seen running to the woman’s location and assisting her.
Police Constable Vince Saunders, Nottinghamshire Police’s chief drone pilot, said: “Finding vulnerable missing people is an area in which our drone technology really excels. … Officers were faced with the challenge of finding a cold, missing and potentially very poorly woman in total darkness.
“The technology allows us to search very large areas in very short space of time and can be deployed very quickly when needed,” he said. “This was a great bit of work by all the officers involved and further proof of the potentially life-saving impact of drone technology.”
Nottinghamshire Police said the drones team, made up of 17 volunteer pilots and four drones, is a resource shared with Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and is on hand 24/7 to carry out pre-planned and emergency response operations.
Typical operations include finding missing people, evidence gathering and supporting the arrest of criminal suspects.
In addition to thermal imaging, the drone used in the field rescue is able to pinpoint and track targets on a map and boasts a laser range-finder that offers accurate geo-location information up to 3,937 feet away, police said.
The Nottinghamshire Police said that U.K. police forces have been using a range of methods for gaining aerial views over events or people since the 1920s, including fixed-wing airplanes and airships.
“This was a great bit of work by all the officers involved,” Saunders said, “and further proof of the potentially life-saving impact of drone technology.”
Edited by Judith Isacoff and Kristen Butler