10 casualties have been reported since 2014 with people endeavoring to cross the Mediterranean. The Drones for Refugees project has been initiated in this aftermath to ensure that this journey across the sea is as safe as possible.The areas with massive concentration of travelling refugees are captured by drones with their real time video footage broadcast along with the use of infrared sensors to keep a watch even at night. Powered by solar batteries along with a wireless internet connection, there is little to no engagement of humans in drone flight. The personnel at the ground stations keep an eye at the video footage on their monitors or handheld mobile devices and collect information such as the number of passengers on a boat, its positional coordinates, the accuracy of the route and whether there are sufficient life vests.
Rescue crews are alerted in the event of an emergency. An emergency aid package is also carried by high end drones that can be released as and when required. The swift response to any emergency can go a long way in saving precious human lives.The new prototype drone was tested in Lesbos between July and August 2016. A higher end variant was introduced in Sicily in the spring of 2017. The self-funded project is seeking collaboration with investors and donors to procure larger sized drones capable to covering longer distances.
Good Drones, an imaginative and design lab with an aim to employ drones to solve social problems, was originally established by Project director Mehdi Salehi. Drones for Refugees is only one of the projects launched under the umbrella of Good Drones initiative. Salehi was deeply affected by news footage of Syrian refugees travelling across the Mediterranean on dilapidated boats along with his own personal experience.Salehi himself came as a refugee from Afghanistan in 2001 as he travelled on a boat along with his friend. Salehi was incarcerated for five months once he reached Greece.
A local lawyer helped him win political asylum and he went onto graduate from the University of Volos and subsequently joined Parson School of Design in New York. He believes himself to be immensely fortunate and credits people who supported him along the way in Greece. He is of the view that refugees and migrants need support and help to get back on their feet.It can be a frustrating and horrifying adventure for refugees to cross the Mediterranean. Drones for Refugees is striving to ensure that refugees get a life line to get away from the violence and hardships in their home countries.