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SAR UAVs: Video examples of IR, optical, and other challenges

September 15, 2018 Leave a comment

We are working on developing a program for UAVs for SAR in NH. Part of this effort involves evaluating and selecting appropriate sensors. Another is “simply” figuring out what works, what doesn’t, what the use cases are, how to meet those use cases (if we can), ….

We’ve done a lot of scenario work and put together some videos to illustrate some of the challenges SAR UAVs face.


 

  • Successful IR find. Subject was on edge of the tree line, early in the day, away from the sun so the ground didn’t have a chance to warm up. As you can tell from the optical view, the subject probably would have been located via an optical sensor as well.

     

  • Unsuccessful IR find. Subject was just inside the tree line and hard to detect with an optical sensor, one of those use cases where you want IR to work. But it was late morning on a ski slope that was in full sun for a few hours and the human’s heat signature gets lost in the clutter.(The subject appears in both 50 second video clips, and you know that they’re present. Now imagine that you’re looking at this in real time after flying for fifteen minutes. How likely are you to detect the subject then?)

 


 

Searching in real time with a UAV is hard. You must fly a slow, methodical flight path to get decent coverage. Conditions must be in your favor. The sensor operator must be trained to look for clues and, if you are using IR, the sensor operator must have experience interpreting IR imagery.

See the end of this video for another example of searching with an optical sensor.

In most cases, I think that searching with a UAV will either be a initial search (aka points and routes) or a post flight image review mission to get decent PODs.

 

Categories: SAR, UAVs