Drones Learn to Hear Screams to Locate Disaster Victims

A week after a United Nations report announced an autonomous drone attack on humans in Libya’s civil war, a team of German engineers revealed that they were working to build a new technology for these aircraft: that of locating and hunting people based on the sounds of their screams.

However, these developers argue that this “ability” will be for good reason. Based on the argument that one of the most useful uses of drones is to monitor areas of difficult access, a team from the Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics (FKIE) said in a statement that their drones could locate survivors of natural disasters.

Described in one of the panels of the 180th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), held this Tuesday (8), the technique is called “Screaming noise estimation using a volumetric microphone array mounted on a UAV”, ie , these scientists are teaching drones to find survivors of natural disasters through the sound of their screams.

Testing the microphones for screams

Fonte: Gerry Broome/AP
Fonte: Gerry Broome/APFonte:  Gerry Broome/AP

According to project leader Macarena Varela, from Fraunhofer FKIE, the team is carrying out tests with a system that uses a series of microphones and advanced processing techniques, called the Crows’ Nest Array. So far none of the scream hunters have left the ground.

The electrical and electronics engineer explained that “we have already successfully detected, and angularly located, impulsive sounds very accurately near distances with the presence of drone noise.” What will be tested now is the measurement of screams, crossed with data processing that can estimate the geographic positions of the origin of the sounds.

When we imagine the capture of human screams during an earthquake, for example, we have an acoustic scenario of great complexity. If the Crows system is able to filter out the noise and locate survivors in need of help, this will be an essential tool for rescuers to do their job,

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