Imagine if you were lost in the woods or if you’ve fallen into a lake and you can’t get out but no one is around you to help, what do you do? Most of us would probably try and scream for help in hopes that someone will hear us, and in the future, maybe that “someone” could be a drone flying by.
Thanks to the work of researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics, they are working on training drones that have the ability to listen to the sounds of people screaming for help. The idea is that this could help rescue workers find people who are trapped in an emergency situation.
This is accomplished by mounting an array of microphones onto a drone and using beamforming techniques to try and pick up on screams or cries for help. This will allow the drone to better pinpoint where exactly the sound is coming from, and from there rescue workers can be directed to the area and try to search for the person.
According to researcher Macarena Varela, she told Mashable that the idea was actually conceived back in 2016, but the microphones they used were too big and heavy to be mounted on drones. However, her colleague Wulf-Dieter Wirth suggested that MEMS microphones could be used in place of condenser microphones, resulting in the system’s current form today. It might be a while before we actually see these drones being used, but it’s an interesting concept that we hope will be made a reality some day.