Milan – With almost vertical walls, deep fractures and dangerous crevasses, ice caves are a huge risk to search and rescue teams. A partnership between Flyability (a company that designs drones) and the alpine rescue team Zermatt Glacier has permitted experimenting with the use of these small aircraft to explore the crevasses in the Swiss Alps at a distance. The long-term goal is to be able to locate people in difficulty or dispersed, before sending out a rescue team.
A drone over the ice
So far the crevasses have been largely inaccessible – both for people and for robotic technologies – because of their narrow walls which make the slightest movement almost impossible. However, the Flyability drone, thanks to its spherical shape that allows it to turn 360 degrees inside a cage, can observe anything and in any environment. The integrated HD camera makes it possible to transmit observations live and a powerful lighting system permits operating in the heart of the glacier, even tens of metres below the surface.
The experiment in Italy
The University of Milan will use the drone for a scientific experiment in our Alps. The project is under way on the Ghiaccio Dosdé Cima to detect the melting of glaciers with the best aerial detection equipment: a NASA satellite technological eye to capture high-resolution images and an avant-garde meteorological station to collect energy data. The “Levissima Shipping Glaciers” project is the first of its kind that uses such advanced technology.
di Alessandro Michielli