Leave it to Canada to do something nice with drones.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced Friday that they were able to save a 25-year-old man's life by using a small drone helicopter to locate him after his vehicle rolled over in near-freezing temperatures. Because who knew drones could be used for non-killing purposes other than filibustering and terrorizing Brooklyn?
The drones came into play early Thursday morning after RCMP responded to a car crash but were unable to find the injured driver. After fruitless ground and air searches, police recieved a 2:10 a.m. 911 call from the driver saying that "he was cold, did not know where he was and could give no directions to his location. He was only dressed in T-shirt (no jacket), pants and had lost his shoes."
Using the GPS coordinates from that call, the Mounties first sent out more traditional responses, including air ambulances with night vision and searchlights. But by 3 a.m., when they were still unable to locate the driver, they launched a small Draganflyer X4-ES helicopter drone with infared vision (like with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, except in an unmanned and cute way). The drone quickly identified three heat signatures, one of which turned out to be the driver, curled up unresponsive in a ball at the base of a tree next to a snow bank. Police say without the drone they would not have been able to locate him until daylight. If you're interested, RCMP has also published a video of the rescue.
And it's not just our mounted neighbors upstaging our drones — other countries are also pushing the idea that drones can be used for good — dropping beers at South African music festivals, for example. But adding to Canada's overwhelming niceness, this might be the first (public) occasion of a drone being used to save a person's life by finding them in time to provide medical attention.