Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education & Research





Key words

unmanned aircraft, search and rescue, garment color, image analysis


Search-and-rescue operations are adopting small unmanned aircraft system technology to aid traditional human search parties operating on foot or by vehicle, which can be hindered by challenging terrain and obstacles. This study utilized three camera equipped small unmanned aircraft to collect aerial images of a simulated human torso in a rural/remote desert summer daytime environment. The study compared detection rates for 10 different garment colors using image analysis software. Results indicated that garment color was statistically significant for detection rate. However, the garment colors with the highest detection rates did not correspond with the garment colors recommended by retail outlets, government agencies, or hunting clubs. As the use of small unmanned aircraft for search and rescue operations continues to increase, it is imperative that individuals conducting activities that have a higher risk for getting lost or injured are aware of the limitations of emerging technology, and that they wear the most visible color of clothing to ensure the best chance of rescue, should the need arise.

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