Drone Exercise Tests Coast Guard’s Arctic Rescue Capabilities
August 26, 2015
Somewhere among ridges of sea ice, more than 20 miles from shore in the Arctic waters off Alaska’s northern coast, an orange six-person raft is floating. But instead of a person, the small vessel’s passenger is a thermal dummy, designed to emit a human heat signature.
In the gray sky 500 feet above, an unmanned aircraft flies a search pattern, scanning the Beaufort Sea for signs of the simulated sinking survivor. Operators of the Puma drone, working from an installation at Oliktok Point and also aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, monitor live feeds from the aircraft’s camera and from its infrared sensors.
The rescuers-in-training look for signs of the lifeboat they know is out there.
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