DroneSAR wins top EU prize for life-saving drone technology

9 Nov 2017

Image: FS11/Shutterstock

DroneSAR’s technology can convert off-the-shelf drones into life-saving search-and-rescue machines.

Irish start-up DroneSAR has won a major European Commission (EC) prize for its life-saving technology at the 14th European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) in Tallinn, Estonia.

The company, a previous Siliconrepublic.com Start-up of the Week, won the prize for the development of software that transforms standard off-the-shelf drone and mobile device pairings into enhanced search and rescue (SAR) data transmission technology that will save lives.

‘This is worthy recognition for an outstanding product that has both commercial and life-saving potential’

The EC prize – the Copernicus Masters Services Challenge – is one of a range of awards on offer to the 321 finalists in the ESNC competition. It is awarded for innovative uses of the EC-operated Copernicus programme products.

DroneSAR’s four co-founders – Oisin McGrath, Matthew Kelly, Gearóid Ó Briain and Leo Murray – each possess expertise and skillsets specific to the world of drone technology; network and satellite communication; and SAR coordination and emergency response. For example, McGrath is a military helicopter instructor/examiner, Kelly is an award-winning app designer, O’Briain is a military flight instructor and founder of the FlyRyte Drone Academy, and Murray is an R&D engineer and member of one of Ireland’s busiest mountain rescue teams.

The right data at the right time could save lives

DroneSAR wins top EU prize for its life-saving drone technology

From left: Matthew Kelly and Oisin McGrath from DroneSAR; DJI’s director of education, Romeo Durscher; and Gearóid Ó Briain, DroneSAR. Image: DroneSAR

“DroneSAR makes it possible to use affordable, ‘off the shelf’ drone technology to expedite successful outcomes during emergency response incidents,” McGrath explained.

“It delivers the right data to the right people at the right time when agencies are faced with time and resource constraints.

“Each member of the DroneSAR team contributed to realise a software product that will play a major part in ensuring that emergency response timeframes, incident coordination, decisions and successful outcomes will be realised across all sectors of the emergency response and humanitarian relief environment.”

To deliver the service, DroneSAR has partnered with leading outdoor pursuit software provider ViewRanger, global maritime distress software company SafeTrx and medical distress location software MediMee, all of which will allow victim position data to be sent to DroneSAR software for automatic flight to the location.

“This is worthy recognition for an outstanding product that has both commercial and life-saving potential,” explained Rory Fitzpatrick, CEO of the National Space Centre.

“We are incredibly proud to see this young Irish company perform so strongly on the international stage.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years