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AerIal RoBotic technologies for professiOnal seaRch aNd rescuE

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - AirBorne (AerIal RoBotic technologies for professiOnal seaRch aNd rescuE)

Reporting period: 2019-07-01 to 2021-04-30

AirBorne deals with the problem of quick localization of victims buried by avalanches in mountain settings. Specifically the goal of AirBorne is twofold:

- From one hand the objective is to develop at TRL8 a few selected robotic aerial technologies for professional Search & Rescue (S&R) teams/associations with a specific focus on winter activities in high mountain. AirBorne aims at developing systems for quick localization of victims buried by avalanches by equipping drones with the two forefront sensor technologies nowadays used in S&R operations in case of avalanche, namely the ARVA ( and RECCO ( The relevant starting point is the R&D activity of the FP7 European project SHERPA where an intensive field activity and a first prototype at TRL5 has been developed.
- The robotic technologies, then, will constitute the initial “technological seed” on which an innovative ICT technology service network will be constituted at European level with the final goal of feeding professional S&R teams/associations with effective ICT technologies by creating a business opportunity and contributing to address several shortcomings of current operations. Technological Hubs (TH) located in strategic positions on the territory and directly linked to the S&R professional teams characterize the network. The teams will be involved as advanced-users to co-develop and test the model with dedicated options for revenue sharing to compensate their contribution. This model directly implement all three components of Social Innovation as defined at the EU level by meeting specific social needs, strengthening social relations and form new collaborations.
The work in the first period was along the following directions:
- The main specifications of the AirBorne platforms and the benchmarks for technology testing were finalized. Deliverables D2.1 and D7.1 submitted in the period details the results achieved along this direction.
- X-LOG and RECCO worked on the design of new sensor technologies specifically calibrated on the drone applications. An innovative 3D antenna concept was developed by X-LOG and integrated on the drone developed by ATECH. Furthermore, a circular polarized antenna for the Recco system has been designed by RECCO. An intensive activity was devoted to characterize the ARTVA sensor in terms of power train inference with different shielding systems that have been tested. Furthermore, common electronic and sensor interfaces were developed. Deliverables D4.1 D4.5 issued in the period present the details along this direction.
- Many prototypes of aerial vehicles were designed and constructed by ATECH and tested on field by rescuers of CAI. The main objective of the field tests was to compare different technologies (motors, ESC, batteries, communication links etc.) in order to converge to a final selection. In the last part of the period a final aerial platform was designed integrating the selected technologies and shielding systems. Deliverables D3.1 issued in the period presents details in this direction.
- In the period an intensive research activity devoted to construct a mathematical model of the AirBorne system and to develop preliminary algorithms for autonomous Search and Rescue missions was accomplished. The activity was mainly focused on the basic scenario of one drone looking for one victim although preliminary results for the multi-drone multi-victim scenarios were also obtained. A very realistic simulator was developed. It was extensively used in the period to test algorithms and for rapid prototyping of the onboard software.
- The idea of Technological Hubs and financial sustainability characterizing AirBorne was initially developed in the period. Medium and long term plans for exploitations were preliminarily delineated, by identifying an initial list of associations to be targeted. The AirBorne business plan was also initially sketched.
- Overall the dissemination activity continued mainly at scientific level by targeting international conferences and journals. The dissemination within the wide audience was deliberately soften waiting for a final reliable aerial prototype.
AIRBORNE developed a drone equipped with two front edge sensor technologies adopted in avalanche scenarios, such as ARTVA and RECCO, for localisation of buried victims. The goal is to develop a platform, with autonomous navigation capabilities, able to speed up the localisation of the victims in areas hardly walkable and to allow the operator to remain at safe distance from the danger.

The need of a robust platform able to operate in unfriendly environments, with marked features in terms of transportability and easy deployment, motivated the development of innovative design concepts for the airframe that are beyond the state of the art. Furthermore, the need of integrating sensors compatible with the drone in terms of EMI motivated the the development of new antennae, shielding systems and electronics fully integrated with the aerial platform.

Overall the impact of the project is disruptive in terms of social, economical and technological impact. The potential social impact of AIRBORNE is, in fact, enormous due to the expected implications for saving people’s lives and increasing people’s safety, during both leisure/sport/free-time activities and in disaster scenarios. In terms of economic impact AIRBORNE has the potential to reduce the cost of S&R operations, thereby saving S&R teams, operators, and public/private funders large amounts of money and making them more efficient and sustainable in the long term. In terms of technology, AIRBORNE had significant technological impact through the research, design, innovation, testing, and refining of unmatched technological features for robustness and the ability to operate in extreme environments and weather conditions.