This drone tracks human screams (to save lives)


A team of researchers from The German Fraunhofer FKIE Institute created a drone that can locate screaming humans. While this sounds like dystopian fiction, it’s actually something they set out to create to make it easier for first responders to find survivors in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

“(Drones) can cover a larger area in less time than rescuers or trained dogs on the ground,” said Macarena Varela, one of the project’s chief engineers. The Washington Post. “If there is a collapsed building, he can alert and help rescuers. He can go to places where they cannot fly or go themselves.

To create their drone, the researchers first recorded themselves screaming, typing, and making other sounds that a person in need of help might make. They then used these recordings to train an artificial intelligence algorithm and tweaked the software to filter out ambient sounds like the drone of the drone’s rotors. Apart from software and drones, the rest of the system is not that complicated. The team used the kind of microphones you might find on your smartphone, mainly because they wanted to keep the drone light and nimble.

Varela said The post office the Fraunhofer FKIE team successfully conducted several field tests in which their drone was able to estimate someone’s location “within seconds” after picking up the sounds it was making. In a next step, the researchers plan to add a higher frequency microphone to a prototype to better detect sounds at farther distances.

This is not the first time that we have seen scientists think of using sound to increase the capabilities of a drone. Last year, a team of researchers from Purdue University developed a system that allows a drone to navigate using four microphones and a speaker. According to the sounds, something could come out of this last project. The Fraunhofer FKIE team said The post office they were approached by several organizations who wanted to partner with them.

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