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Rega – Swiss Air-Rescue, to home page

The Rega drone

The newly developed Rega drone can autonomously scan large search areas and is equipped with various sensors, such as a thermal camera. The Rega drone is to be deployed on missions to search for missing, injured or ill persons to supplement the conventional resources – for example, if the helicopter has to remain on the ground due to poor visibility. As a result, in future, Rega will have at its disposal an additional device to help it search for people in distress.

  • Operational temperature:
    – 40°C to 40°C

  • Operational altitude:
    max. 3,000 m a.s.l.

  • Max. payload:
    10 kg

  • Search capacity:
    16 sq. km in 2 hrs

  • Flying speed:
    80 km/h search flight,
    max. 120 km/h

  • Take-off/ landing site:
    10 x10 m

     

The Rega drone has a rotor diameter of 2.8 metres and is 2.2 metres long and 75 centimetres high. It is driven by a twin-shaft engine, which means that it still has sufficient power reserves even at high altitudes. With a total weight of around 25 kilograms, it can be deployed for a variety of uses.

 

Thanks to several high-precision, redundant GNSS receivers enabling satellite navigation, the Rega drone flies autonomously on a predefined route with an accuracy to the metre. It follows the topography of the terrain at an altitude of around 80–100 metres above ground level.

Like many aircraft in Switzerland, the drone is equipped with the FLARM anti-collision system and an ADS-B receiver. The FLARM signals are evaluated on board. If necessary, the drone will automatically alter its flight path in order to avoid an impending collision.

If necessary, the drone can also operate without visual contact with the pilot using the so-called BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) procedure. This requires the connection to the drone to also be maintained without directly being able to see it. In the case of the Rega drone, this happens via the mobile radio network.

The signals from the infrared camera and the camera with visual contact are categorised with the aid of a self-learning algorithm. The image areas in which, based on the pixel pattern, the algorithm "presumes" a person is located are relayed to the operator on the ground, who then examines this footage manually.

In an emergency, Rega can track the mobile phone of a missing person in a targeted manner not only with a specially equipped rescue helicopter, but also using the drone system. It does this on behalf the police authority responsible.