What are “human hunting” drones and how do they work

Drones respond to cries of help for the missing. Photo: MACARENA VARELA / FRAUNHOFER FKIE

The advancement of technology can be defined by many as the seemingly endless revolution. More and more scientific discoveries are allowing technology to grow and displace, in a matter of months or a few years, what was once considered the “latest advance”.

This is the case year after year with Smartphones, cameras, computers and even drones; Being that last device this article will focus on, because they have now discovered a new use for this amazing technology: Save people by sound.

For a few years now, researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Work Environment (Fraunhofer FKIE) have focused their efforts on planning, creating and controlling gifts that “catch” people trapped in an emergency and need them to be found to help them.

To achieve this, The drone uses a series of microphones that allow it to recognize people’s screams and thus locate them faster What a human rescue team might do. For this, scientists have developed a beamforming system (a path vector for better access to information), with which microphones can detect clean sounds and focus their path in the direction whose direction is most focused on the target.

“Ideally, to use beam-forming techniques, it is practical to use an array of identical microphones that deliver synchronous data (…) We chose a very special array called the Crow’s Nest, where all the microphones are randomly placed on a sphere. This type of matrix provides acoustic coverage in all directions and [es] Equal in all of them‘,” explained Fraunhofer FKIE researcher Macarena Varela, in a conversation with specialist portal Mashable.

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Currently, each drone has a total of 32 microphones in its design, and while it might be thought that the best thing for the project would be to have fewer of these artifacts with greater access power, it seems to the researchers that in this “more is better” case. “.

“Because MEMS (Micro Electromechanical System) microphones are so small and affordable, We plan to double the number of microphones in the near future instead of reducing themVarela noted.

The devices have 32 microphones in their array, for easier locating of people.  Photo: Macarena Varela
The devices have 32 microphones in their array, for easier locating of people. Photo: Macarena Varela

According to scientists, the ideal is to have a larger number of microphones, which will allow to improve the accuracy of the angle of the captured sounds and in this way make the drone more accurate when determining the location of a person. In short, this system works like an on-screen resolution: The higher the number of pixels, the better the image definition, although in the case of drones the sound resolution will be better.

“Data from all microphones, after adding delays or stages, are combined to achieve maximum sensitivity for a specific direction, thus forming a sensitivity beam (…) Then, by changing or scanning the direction, the search for sound sources is achievedresearcher added.

Finally, Macarena Varela confirmed that in recent months they have been working on how to filter the various sounds of the environment more effectively, in order to reduce the noise around the drone, while recognizing the impulsive sounds of people Like tapping, clapping, and yelling.

“In previous tests in the lab, we were able to detect impulsive sounds, such as clapping and the presence of rotor noises (…) We are currently processing the data as the drone flies”

“However, we are also facing new challenges, such as in-flight drone noise,” Varela said, adding that “in other words, we have the expertise in our team, so it is only a matter of time” before this system is widely deployed for search and rescue. teams around the world.

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Lovell Loxley

"Alcohol buff. Troublemaker. Introvert. Student. Social media lover. Web ninja. Bacon fan. Reader."

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