Of drone’s many usages nowadays, an important application is in sporting competitions, with the gadget flying high through the clouds to provide aerial photography and security inspection.
That’s how drones are put to work in the run-up to the 2023 Wuhan Marathon, due to be held in the central Chinese city on April 16.
Members of Clouded Leopard, a non-governmental group of volunteer rescuers, enlisted to offer their services by flying drones along the marathon route to weed out security hazards.
Tu Sijia, a drone operator on the team, known for short as the “Leopards,” told local media in the Hubei Provincial capital that the drone had flown the length of the running route many times over at multiple angles and heights.
This involved operating the gizmo outdoors under a scorching sun in Wuhan. Temperatures in recent days rose to as high as about 25 degrees Celsius.
The mercury is expected to reach a high of 29 degrees and a low of 19 degrees on the 16th, the very day of the marathon, according to meteorologists.
“All the hard work done for the sporting extravaganza is worth our while,” said Tu.
Since its founding in 2009, Clouded Leopard has been among the first professional citizen emergency rescue groups in China to adopt high-tech gadgets like drone, thermal imagers and others and deploy drones during search-and-rescue missions in disaster-stricken areas.
The team now even owns more than 20 drone-related patents. Its members even combined the ground control station for unmanned aerial vehicles and satellite communication systems in a command car that proved instrumental in past operations.
The “Leopards” even once dropped life buoys from a multirotor into the water during rescue operations.
Drone has an unrivalled benefit in bringing relief to disaster-ravaged areas, Xiang Dong, the founder and leader of the “Leopards,” said in a 2020 interview.
To illustrate, he explained that in the case of a raging fire, thick billows of ash and smoke will impair visibility, preventing rescuers or firefighters from identifying the burning areas.
But a drone carrying high-tech gear can fly high enough to get a clear picture showing the extent of the damage.
It even can predict wind direction and generate 3D simulated images that are conducive to putting out the blaze or helping trapped firefighters find their way out to safety.