Drones are opening up a world of new possibilities for consumers. They may have started off as aerial cameras, but now, as the technology has matured, they're finding applications far outside the realm of photography. Nowadays we've got drones that deliver goods, fight deforestation, and even patrol our coastlines to warn swimmers of nearby sharks -- but this is just the beginning. In the not so distant future, drones will also be used to save lives.
Staring very soon, DJI, the world's largest drone manufacturer, will be supplying drones to the European Emergency Number Association for use in high-impact situations like rescue missions -- a deal that could fundamentally change the way first responders operate.
"Drones are transforming the way first response and civil protection missions operate by not only helping commanders make faster, smarter and better informed decisions, but also by providing first responders with more detailed information from an aerial perspective," said Romeo Durscher, director of education at DJI, in a statement.
The partnership will involve the use of DJI's Phantom, Inspire, and Matrice 100 drones, which will be equipped with the company's Zenmuse XT thermal imaging system. Pilot programs will begin in May and September in Denmark and Ireland.
In the Denmark pilot program, the Greater Copenhagen Fire Department will be trained to use drones for things like firefighting, chemical accidents, and car accidents. The Irish Donegal Mountain Rescue Team is already using DJI-built software to coordinate rescue missions, however going forward they will also be working on improving real-time networking techniques and crowd-sourcing capabilities.
The program could open the door for other teams to incorporate drones into how they operate. At the end of the pilot programs, teams will "share insights and best practices with the broader international emergency-response community to promote the safe integration of drones in emergency situations," according to the statement.
The EENA has representatives from over 1,200 emergency services in 80 countries, so it's certainly well-positioned to implement drone use for emergency situations around Europe.
Also watch: We talk to Ford's Ken Washington about connectivity, cars, and drones at CES