Magazine article Foreign Policy

Hot on the Trail

Magazine article Foreign Policy

Hot on the Trail

Article excerpt

EVERY YEAR, Switzerland responds to about 1,000 backcountry search-and-rescue (SAR) emergencies--hikers injured in falls, thrill-seekers who've gone missing, campers stranded by rock slides or floods. Currently, the normal way to find people is to dispatch human teams, sometimes into dangerous parts of the Alps. This work is time-consuming; about 10,000 manpower hours are expended annually in Switzerland alone. Emergencies in other trekkers' paradises, such as Nepal and Peru, only add to the global total.

Now, elevating operations off the ground, a team of Swiss researchers has developed an SAR drone. Aerial missions offer several obvious benefits: Drones are relatively cheap these days, several can be released simultaneously to scan different areas in short order, and they don't place human responders in harm's way. The newly developed device, however, isn't like the run-of-the-mill drones saturating the commercial market. In fact, it may be smarter than the average human.

The machine's navigation software relies on a specially designed algorithm--supported by a "deep learning" neural network that mimics the human brain--that allows the drone to process and recall visual experiences. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.