Winner of the IMRF Awards 2019 Category: Innovation & Technology

The UK has many areas of difficult coastline and a range of tidal reaches, but drones and emerging technologies offer new ways of finding people missing in remote and rural areas. 

Current technologies rely heavily on trained operators and regulatory restrictions prevent the use of drones beyond a visual line of sight and above 400m.  These factors have limited their usefulness in the maritime SAR environment. 

However, the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency developed four pathfinder projects to explore the use of remotely operated vehicles in SAR operations. 

Phillip Hanson has led this multi-faceted approach, conducting extensive trials, with industry involvement, to expose weaknesses in both the platforms and their operations, which has led to more innovative solutions using emerging technologies.

Trials with the Coastguard/RNLI and industry used a range of drones (both rotary and fixed wing) and sensor types in realistic SAR scenarios.

The search data was then shared with Qinetiq and the Coastguard to direct operations on the ground.

A 12-month trial used a range of drone types and multi-agency support, including ground teams, lifeboats and aircraft, which extended the understanding of drone capability and limitations.

This, in turn, has helped in the development of operational protocols and the application of innovative technologies.

A further trial explored the detection of GPS-enabled mobile phones from SAR aircraft, working with RNLI and mountain rescue teams, to search and locate missing persons.

Maritime surveillance capabilities have also been developed for SAR and counter pollution services to help protect the wider marine environment.

This work has significantly advanced the understanding and establishment of concepts and pathways for the use of remote assets to improve the probability of detection and, ultimately, save more lives. 

Photo Gallery

View the Gallery in Flickr.

Photo Gallery of the IMRF Awards 2019 Day

IMRF Awards 2019 - Ceremony - 10 September 2019

Or view the full IMRF Awards 2019 album in Flickr.