As the fate of several hundreds of people remains unknown in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) on Saturday decided to deploy drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to locate missing persons.
Senthil Kumar of the Madras Institute of Technology (MIT), Chennai, and his team of research scholars reached Guptkashi to launch ‘Daksha,’ the indigenously developed drone, to trace persons probably trapped in inaccessible terrain.
Fitted with thermal and high definition cameras, the drone was on a trial sortie for a few hours. Fresh rains slowed down the process during the early hours, Dr. Senthil Kumar told The Hindu over the phone.
On seeing reports in the media that many persons were still missing in Uttarakhand and that rescue workers were unable to access certain pockets, Dr. Kumar met Tamil Nadu Director-General of Police K. Ramanujam and offered to launch drones in the search operation. In coordination with the NDRF officials, the Tamil Nadu Police and Anna University facilitated the team to visit the flood-affected areas.
“In the event of any person being alive in the debris or a pile of bodies, the thermal camera can sense temperature variation and track his/her location. High quality visuals of inaccessible terrain will be captured by the HD camera,” he said.
Rain hampers operation
Though the NDRF officials were planning to take the team to Kedarnath and its adjoining towns, inclement weather conditions prevented helicopter movement during the day. When reports last came in, the team was heading towards a valley some 100 km away from Guptkashi in Army trucks.