Scientists are teaching drones to hunt down human screams

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Scientists are teaching drones to hunt down human screams

If someone created a flying machine capable of tracking you down by listening for your voice, you might be creeped out.

But what if you were pinned under a pile of rubble after a natural disaster and first responders couldn’t locate you? Maybe then a human-seeking drone wouldn’t be such a terrible idea.

That concept is the focus for engineers at Germany’s Fraunhofer FKIE institute, who’ve built a drone prototype designed to find people by detecting human screams and listening for other signs of distress. One of the lead engineers, Macarena Varela, showcased their progress last week at an annual conference hosted by the Acoustic Society of America.

While it’s easy to imagine human-seeking drones in a sci-fi horror movie, Varela says the gadget would be ideal for post-disaster scenarios, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and wildfires. They could hover over an area that rescue crews have difficulty getting to and pinpoint where people may be trapped…

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