Japan Team Develops Rescue Drone That Can Detect Calls for Help (News)

Science Technology

Tokyo, Dec. 7 (Jiji Press)—A Japanese research team said Thursday it has developed what it claims is a world-first drone that can identify the locations of people trapped under rubble in natural disasters by detecting their calls for help with a special microphone.

The Tokyo Institute of Technology team's drone comes with a spherical microphone attachment that can locate the source of cries for help in rubble following a disaster. Photographed on December 7, 2017. (© Jiji)

The drone, developed by a team led by Nakadai Kazuhiro, professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, is fitted with a ball-shaped device containing 16 microphones.

Sounds collected by the microphones are converted into data by special software to reduce noise interference, including from the drone's rotors, to better catch human voices.

The waterproof drone displays the locations where the voices come from on a three-dimensional map, making them clear to the operator.

Currently, the drone responds to sounds other than human voices, including from heavy machinery for rescue operations. However, following testing of the drone in Kumamoto Prefecture locations where heavy machinery was in use, a research team led by Kumamoto University Associate Professor Kumon Makoto believes that differences between the sound of machinery and human voices can be exploited to make the microphone system more sensitive to cries for help.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

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