Germany-ALSHARQIYA June 18: A team of German researchers announced, this week, the development of a system that would allow rescuers to fly drones over disaster areas, and identify the sounds of trapped people screaming for help.
The new technology was presented, on Tuesday, by Makarella Varela of the German "Fronhofer" Institute, through the application of video meetings "Zoom", at the annual conference of the American Acoustic Association, according to the American newspaper "Washington Post".
Explaining the importance of her new technology, Varela said: "If there is a building collapsing or a tragedy like an earthquake occurs, people will be under the rubble, and rescue workers will need to act quickly to help them.
But it is difficult for them to locate the victims, but we are able to help them very easily to spot them if we use drones that pick up human screams and other types of noise.”
The process of creating these scream-seeking drones began by compiling a database of screams and other "thumping" sounds people make when trying to get rescuers' attention, such as tapping and clapping.
Then, using deep learning techniques, this database was tested using a microphone array set up in the lab, to see if the system could accurately distinguish the difference between problematic human voices and other types of noise.
The researchers also conducted speech articulation tests, which allow them to amplify a long-range murmuring sound, such as someone speaking from a distance, into a perfectly clear sentence. This can help rescuers identify important information about the specific needs of people who are trapped or facing other problems.
The next step centered on Macarella Varela and her colleagues placing more than 60 digital microphones atop a drone for a hands-on experiment. Unlike conventional microphones, digital microphones do not require a sound card and are much smaller in size, making it easier to deploy on drones.
And the "Acoustical Society of America" website published a video clip showing the drone in action and helping a researcher screaming for help.
"The drones can cover much larger areas faster than people on the ground, but of course they can also be used by rescuers who may not hear the noise and who can walk around, so the system can detect this noise," Varela confirms in a press conference.
And she continued: "Once the aircraft detect the sound, they will fly near the place, and hover in order to determine the exact location from which the sound is coming."
"When disaster strikes, every minute counts in finding missing people," she added.