Project Lifesaver International has received an award for its use of Unmanned Aerial Systems in the search for missing persons.
 - Photo: Project Lifesaver International

Project Lifesaver International has received an award for its use of Unmanned Aerial Systems in the search for missing persons.

Photo: Project Lifesaver International

Project Lifesaver International (PLI) has been awarded the Humanitarian Xcellence Award by the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International (AUVSI), a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of unmanned systems and robotics. PLI was selected from a pool of accomplished applicants as one of five winners for the Humanitarian Award for its work with the PLI Indago UAV. The Humanitarian Award has been sponsored by DJI for the second consecutive year. Winners were announced during the keynote session on Thursday, May 2 at AUVSI Xponential at McCormick Place in Chicago.

"The Humanitarian Awards demonstrate the profound ability of the recipients to positively impact lives through unmanned systems technology," said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI. "We proudly recognize the five winners and hope their accomplishments will serve as an inspiration to utilize unmanned aircraft systems to accomplish remarkable achievements for our society."

PLI is a search-and-rescue program operated internationally by public safety agencies and is strategically designed for at-risk individuals who are prone to the life-threatening behavior of wandering, including those with autism, Alzheimer's, and similar cognitive conditions. The non-profit actively educates and equips public safety agencies in the protection, search, and safe and timely recovery of special needs wanderers.

The method relies on proven radio technology and specially trained search-and-rescue teams. Citizens enrolled in Project Lifesaver wear a small transmitter on the wrist or ankle that emits an individualized frequency signal. In the event that an enrolled client goes missing, certified Project Lifesaver Emergency Search Specialists can utilize specialized receivers to locate the client by triangulating the position of their frequency signal. While airborne operations have been included in Project Lifesaver's practices since the beginning, PLI integrated a UAV into its operations to offer a more viable and cost-effective solution to the use of helicopters in 2017.

"We've seen an expanding implementation of drone technology in the past year, from locating humans lost under cluttered forest canopies, to dropping critical medications in Africa, Oceania and Latin America, to enabling students to program UAVs and fly autonomous missions," said Mario Rebello, country manager for North America and vice president of the Americas at DJI. "These innovators are a true proof of drone innovation driven not just by the technology itself, but by its users. We are thrilled to see the width and depth of UAV's embracement keep expanding across more industries, and we hope the award will inspire more drone operators around the world to accomplish great feats in their own communities."

The AUVSI Xcellence Awards honor innovators in the unmanned systems industry, including individuals and organizations with a demonstrated commitment to advancing technology, leading and promoting safe operations, and developing programs that use unmanned systems to improve the human condition.

"I am humbled to achieve such an astounding commendation," exclaimed Chief Gene Saunders, founder and CEO of PLI. "There were so many remarkable organizations and initiatives named as finalists in this same category, and it is truly an honor to be named a winner among these prestigious names in the industry."

For more information about Project Lifesaver, visit