Kamloops Search and Rescue tests potentially lifesaving drone technology | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops Search and Rescue tests potentially lifesaving drone technology

Robert Atwood and Richard Sullivan of Hummingbird Drones are pictured in this contributed photo.
Image Credit: Contributed/Hummingbird Drones/Lincoln Smith
November 21, 2015 - 1:00 PM

KAMLOOPS – Drones are getting a bad rap for everything from endangering aircraft and invading privacy, but a Kamloops company is using the technology to do good.

Hummingbird Drones is teaming up with Kamloops Search and Rescue to see if drones equipped with infrared cameras will help find people lost in the bush.

Search manager Alan Hobler says they will be testing out the unmanned aerial vehicles tonight, Nov. 21, at their regular weekly training exercise to see how effective they are.

The hope is they will be able to find missing people faster with less risk to the searchers.

Hobler does expect the heat seeking technology to have some limitations. He says bad weather may hamper the drone’s flight or the tree canopy might block heat signatures from the missing people. As well, the infrared camera might not see a person wrapped in a survival blanket or who is heavily dressed.

Despite the possible technological limits, he is cautiously optimistic.

“This could definitely be a game changer,” Hobler say. “At the very least it’s going to enhance our ability to search and it’s going to be an extra tool for us to use out there.”

Hummingbird Drones was started by students from Thompson Rivers University and won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Start Up Canada for their work with B.C. Wildfire Management last summer.

Hobler says they successfully used the drones to find spot fires at night, which is something infrared equipped helicopters can’t do after dark.

He spoke to the people from Hummingbird last night and they told him just the thought their technology could save somebody’s life was absolutely thrilling to them.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Howard Alexander at halexander@infonews.ca. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2015

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