The Kansas City Police Department is teaming up with a geo-location company to mate drones with a special radio-transmitting bracelet in an effort to save the lives of wandering Alzheimer’s and dementia victims.
This past month, the department partnered with Care Trak and the local Civil Air Patrol to test the hybrid system. Care Trak markets telemetry-based tracking devices that can be worn by anyone who is at risk of going missing. Since 1986, the company says they have helped locate thousands of Alzheimer’s wanderers and children with special needs such as autism, Down’s syndrome and other conditions.
The Kansas PD hopes that combining infrared-seeking drones with Care Trak transmitters will allow rescuers to more easily triangulate a person’s location. Capt. Brad Deichler says the department recently received FAA clearance to launch the UAV-based search-and-rescue program and that his officers have been trained to pilot them.
“It will make our people far more proficient in the search and rescue in which they’re already very good at, but it has the potential to save lives, which is why we’re involved in it,” Civil Air Patrol Maj. Austin Worchester stated in a recent interview.
“People with autism and special needs, dementia, Alzheimer’s, autism, when they walk away the weather conditions dictate how long they can survive outside. They’re without water. They’re without shelter often times. The survivability window is finite and we want to make sure that we have the most resources we can put in to find that person as quickly as possible.”
The Care Trak receiver antenna allows a user to pick up and follow a radio signal in a technique similar to the well-known game of “Hot or Cold.” Heat-seeking drones can refine telemetry-based searches by detecting the body heat of the missing person.
The pairing of drones with locater technology has become a match made in police heaven for law enforcement.
Recently, Mexican startup Dronix teamed up with well-known automotive/anti-theft company LoJack with a concept in which the company would deploy a drone swarm to patrol Mexico City. Whenever a LoJack-equipped auto is stolen, a radio signal would be sent by the anti-theft equipment in the car to the nearest drone which can then swoop in, photograph and follow the errant vehicle.