The goal of CLOSE-SEARCH is to integrate in a small unmanned helicopter, a thermal sensor and a multisensor GPS-EGNOS-based navigation system with an Autonomous Integrity Monitoring capability, to support the search component of search-and-rescue (SAR) operations in remote, difficult-to-access areas and/or in time critical situations. The result will be prototype that will demonstrate an end-to-end functionality.
It is also the goal of CLOSE-SEARCH to demonstrate the added value of a future multi-constellation augmented GNSS configuration with EGNOS and SoL services.
Two key target attributes of the proposed concept are ultra-safe navigation and low-cost, so it can be massively used. The system would be available in ski resorts, tourist areas, mountaineering clubs and civil protection premises.
The context of CLOSE-SEARCH is that of SAR operations in critical circumstances ranging from outdoor sports to disasters. It covers a broad range of situations: from georeferenced distress calls, to loosely-georeferenced and non-georeferenced ones. The system can be operated day and night in rather inaccessible areas. By systematically flying over a region and through the detection of the body heat, disaster survivors or lost people will be identified. CLOSE-SEACH would be a low-cost and robust system to support the SAR search component in situations of just approximate knowledge of the search geographic area.
Under this concept, upon an alarm, an UA integrated in an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) will be transported to the closest possible point to the emergency area and launched to systematically scan the area with a thermal sensor following a predefined flying path derived from 3D geo-databases. The images will be transferred to the control centre via the UAS datalink.