Could this drone save lives on ski slopes in the Alps?

A ski resort in Savoie, France announced that it will roll out a drone with a thermal camera to help rescue workers on Alpine ski slopes. — Courtesy of Office du tourisme de Val Thorens / T. Loubere/AFP

The French ski resort of Val Thorens has announced that this season it will be rolling out a flying drone to patrol its vast skiing area for the first time. Its mission? To warn skiers about impending dangers as well as to provide assistance in case of an avalanche. Its onboard technology could help rescue workers save lives.

Throughout the ski season, this drone will allow the resort's tracking staff to analyse ski and snow conditions, as well as assist in rescue missions in the event of an avalanche by providing valuable information to ski patrollers in order to evaluate the best safety response. The drone features two digital cameras, a thermal one to identify heat sources under the snow, and a second that boasts a very powerful zoom (180x) to examine any portion of the ski slope from a distance. Finally, a loudspeaker allows safety instructions to be transmitted to overly intrepid skiers if necessary.

At any time, the drone can be directed towards an area of risk or onto the terrain of an avalanche. It will then be possible to remotely locate potential victims trapped under the snow and communicate with the rescue team on site, thus accelerating rescue procedures.

Val Thorens ski patrollers are currently training to get the necessary certifications to fly such devices. – AFP Relaxnews

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