SARA, a GSA-funded project developing a turnkey solution for search and rescue (SAR) and surveillance operations, has been successfully tested at a recent football match. Based on the test, the economic viability of using the solution for event filming and monitoring/surveying is currently being investigated.
The SARA project is working on engineering and commercialising a tethered drone-based SAR and surveillance solution using an already existing prototype. The solution is able to guarantee continuous operations by means of a patented cable used for power supply and as a secure data link. For drone navigation and control, as well as for target identification and localisation, SARA uses high-accuracy Galileo-enabled GNSS receivers.
The test was carried out continuously for the duration of the football match, which offered an interesting test case requiring continuous surveillance over a two-hour period. The SARA terminal was set to monitor several players, whose positions were tracked over time. The footballers were localised using a Galileo-enabled GNSS receiver installed on the drone, which provided a reference, along with a computer vision algorithm that transformed pixels into 2D geographical positions.
Watch this: SARA for Football
A profile of the positions (one per second) was created and compared with the video material. “This qualitative test revealed interesting results in terms of target identification (the right player) and localisation within the football field zone, and also in terms of the limited cost of the equipment used,” said Marco Nisi, Head of Integrated GNSS Solutions at project partner Sistematica.
“This use case is now being studied to evaluate the economic viability of using the solution to film at events and to carry out monitoring and surveillance operations,” he said.
Range of applications
Maritime SAR is the primary target market but, as the football match test has shown, the solution has potential applications in other areas. One such area is security surveillance, particularly with the aim of preventing trespassing and detecting potential threats in open spaces. Possible use cases include monitoring and surveillance of building sites and other infrastructure, and security surveillance at major sporting events.
“In particular, as a very promising side market, the SARA team is continuing to address the technological challenges and to experiment with the business model with a view to reaching the sports domain as a provider of event surveillance management solutions and livestream broadcasting,” Nisi said.
The solution will be further tested in Szczecin, Poland in September 2019, where the drone will be operated on board a vessel to simulate a maritime SAR scenario. In this case, the drone will act as a vertical pylon and will be set up in “follow the ship” mode, making it possible to survey and identify and locate targets with an extended coverage of several nautical miles.
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