Drones aren't just for fun. And while we all know of the tremendous potential for drones in various business verticals, from product delivery to real estate, film, and medical aid, DJI claims that drones have taken things even further, and already directly saved the lives of at least 59 people.
According to a survey conducted by the leading unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) manufacturer, drones have rescued at least 59 people from life-threatening conditions in 18 incidents around the world.
More than a third of these people were rescued by drones being operated by civilian bystanders and volunteers offering their services. While it might be a stretch to say that this proves personal drones "offer a concrete benefit to public safety," as DJI so succinctly puts it in its report, many would argue that the risks, privacy issues, and general annoyances could outweigh those potential benefits. That said, drones are being more widely used by public safety agencies, not just excited consumers toying aroud with them in their backyards. And this has led the rate of lifesaving drone work to reach upwards of one per week, claims DJI.
The report is based on a survey of media reports collected from around the world, thus there could very well have been additional life-saving incidents that were not widely reported, or not sourced for DJI's research. The report includes rescues made on land and water, and in flooded areas. Drones have found missing people, brought them water and supplies, and in several cases, brought them life jackets or rescue ropes. A PDF outlines all of the incidents DJI managed to find for its report, linking to each respective news item. Three of the incidents hail from Canada, including the report of a man who was located in a snowy field by a drone's infrared camera back in 2013; a man with dementia who was found in a dark cornfield last October; and four lost skiers and snowboarders who were located by a drone just last month.
Of course, any naysayer might add that there have also been several reports of drone injuries and accidents, including those that have caused serious harm to individuals. In one case, a drone smashed into a building, then fell on top of a young and knocked her unconscious. In another, a drone took out the eye of a child. Of course in most, if not all of these cases, the drones were being operated by non-professionals for recreational use.
Nonetheless, from a business perspective, the advantages of properly operated drones are tremendous.
"The clear conclusion is that drones are regularly saving lives around the world," reads the report, which was devised from DJI's Policy & Legal Affairs Department. "This is occurring even though professional rescue crews are just beginning to adopt UAS technology, and in many cases, are relying on bystanders or volunteers to provide lifesaving assistance."
DJI has been working to develop best practices and optimal standards for firefighters, rescue services and other first responders to integrate drones into their command protocols. "As these efforts continue," the report concludes, "we expect the number of lives saved by drones to continue to grow."