Search and Rescue Drones: Finding a Cell Phone Signal, and a Missing Person

Image Provided by the Centrum

Search and rescue drones have been used for several years now, and are incredibly effective at finding missing persons.  Using thermal imagery, searches for missing persons can continue in the dark and under ever more challenging conditions.

This new search and rescue drone solution covers scenarios when even thermal imaging can’t help.  Lifeseeker is an airborne system that can locate mobile phones, even without network coverage. The new technology marries cell phones signals to search and rescue missions using either helicopters or a smaller version appropriate for drones.  The solution turns the mobile phone into a beacon capable of leading rescue teams to its location.  The tool has tremendous potential for saving lives in disasters such as earthquakes, when people may be buried under rubble or earth; or in the case of avalanche.  It would also be effective in finding people hidden under dense canopy, such as in a jungle.

While a larger version of Lifeseeker is available for helicopter, the smaller version for drones means that search and rescue operations may take place not only more cheaply, but in conditions during which helicopters would be grounded: in low visibility, adverse weather conditions, and at night.  Lifeseeker is produced by Spanish company Centrum and marketed in Asia by Drone Solutions Services, a privately held company out of Singapore, as well as other companies worldwide.

search and rescue drones

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“The product locates missing people using their mobile phones as beacons to give their exact location. It does not require collaboration with the missing person to be able to locate them. It requires no collaboration of the service providers at any point in the process and is not bounded by the type of network in place as it works in 2G, 3G, 4G and no signal areas.   It also has the ability to act as a communication relay between the missing person and the rescue team,” says the company.

search and rescue drone

Image Provided by Centrum

Cell phone data has been in the news recently as a data source for  coronavirus tracking.    This data is utilized for tracking large amounts of people over time: it can determine, for example, where students may go after

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