DroneAlert: Autonomous Drones for Emergency Response

  • Luis Bausá López
  • Niels van ManenEmail author
  • Erik van der Zee
  • Steven Bos


Often, public safety services have to respond to emergency alerts of which little or nothing is known besides the time and location, as is the case of Galileo’s SAR alerts. In such cases the emergency responders have to wait until arriving to the alert location before analysing the situation and defining an action plan, thus using precious time. Autonomous drones can be sent to the location of the alert to quickly provide real-time imagery of the situation to allow emergency responders to analyse and prepare for the situation before responding or during departure to the alert’s origin. Using a GNSS chip to know its position, and based on a geographical model on the area, it is possible to create and load a flight path for the drone to fly autonomously and perform a set of predefined actions, such as broadcasting live video stream, take pictures, drop a survival kit or establish bidirectional communications with the person that threw the alert. This chapter describes the drone-based public safety service in detail and how localisation information is used to support it.


Autonomous drones Emergency alerts Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) System architecture 



The author wishes to acknowledge Erik van der Zee, Steven Bos and the Geodan Research team for their support and assistance on the analysis of the system.

This work was financially supported by EU FP7 Marie Curie Initial Training Network MULTI-POS (Multi-technology Positioning Professionals) under grant nr. 316528.


  1. 1.
    3DR, Mapping drones (2016). (visited on 01/28/2016)
  2. 2.
    Airvid, Hire drone pilot (2016). (visited on 01/28/2016)
  3. 3.
    DJI, No fly zones (2016). (visited on 01/28/2016)
  4. 4.
    H. Eisenbeiss, A mini unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV): system overview and image acquisition, in International Archives of Photogrammetry. Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences 36.5/W1 (2004)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    FAA, No drone zone (2016). (visited on 01/28/2016)
  6. 6.
    FAA, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Regulations and Policies (2016). (visited on 01/28/2016)
  7. 7.
    P. Fabiani et al., Autonomous flight and navigation of VTOL UAVs: from autonomy demonstrations to out-of-sight flights. Aerosp. Sci. Technol. 11 (2), 183–193 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    G. Hattenberger, M. Bronz, M. Gorraz, Using the Paparazzi UAV system for scientific research, in IMAV 2014, International Micro Air Vehicle Conference and Competition 2014, Delft. HAL. Hal-id: hal-01059642, Aug (2014), pp. 247–252. doi:10.4233/uuid:b38fbdb7-e6bd-440d-93be-f7dd1457be60Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    S. Hickey, Humanitarian drones to deliver medical supplies to roadless areas (2014). (visited on 03/21/2016)
  10. 10.
    J. How, E. King, Y. Kuwata, Flight demonstrations of cooperative control for UAV teams, in AIAA 3rd Unmanned Unlimited Technical Conference, Workshop and Exhibit, Chicago, IL. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), pp. 20–23, Sept (2004)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    H. Kelly, Drones: the future of disaster response (2013). (visited on 11/09/2015)
  12. 12.
    P. Kemao et al., Design and implementation of a fully autonomous flight control system for a UAV helicopter, in 2007 Chinese Control Conference (IEEE, New York, 2007), pp. 662–667Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    G. Khaselev, J. Singleton, UAV: Autonomous flight (2014)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Know Before You Fly, Know before you fly (2016). (visited on 02/12/2016)
  15. 15.
    M. Maciag, Law enforcement agencies using drones list, map (2013). (visited on 03/21/2016)
  16. 16.
    K. Nonami, Prospect and recent research & development for civil use autonomous unmanned aircraft as UAV and MAV. J. Syst. Design Dyn. 1 (2), 120–128 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Paparazzi UAV, Paparazzi UAV, The free autopilot: overview (2016). (visited on 01/25/2016)
  18. 18.
    A. Pulver, R. Wei, C. Mann, Locating AED enabled medical drones to enhance cardiac arrest response times. Prehosp. Emerg. Care 20 (3), 378–389 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    J. San-Miguel-Ayanz, N. Ravail, Active fire detection for fire emergency management: potential and limitations for the operational use of remote sensing. Nat. Hazards 35 (3), 361–376 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Sensefly, Mapping drones applications (2016). (visited on 03/21/2016)
  21. 21.
    T. Tomic et al., Toward a fully autonomous UAV: research platform for indoor and outdoor urban search and rescue IEEE Robot. Autom. Mag. 19 (3), 46–56 (2012). ISSN:1070–9932. doi:10.1109/MRA.2012.2206473Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    B. Van de Walle, M. Turoff, Decision support for emergency situations. IseB 6 (3), 295–316 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Webredactie Communication, TU Delft’s ambulance drone drastically increases chances of survival of cardiac arrest patients (2014). (visited on 01/28/2016)

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis Bausá López
    • 1
  • Niels van Manen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Erik van der Zee
    • 2
  • Steven Bos
    • 2
  1. 1.Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.GeodanAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations