DroneResponse: Configurable Multi-User, Multi-Drone Emergency Response Missions

Tech ID: 20-055

Inventors: Jane Cleland-Huang, Michael Vierhauser, Ankit Agrawal

Date Added: July 15, 2020


A system that deploys semi-autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that interact with human first responders in various emergency response missions.

Technology Summary

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The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) has increased significantly in emergency response missions such as search-and-rescue operations, medical supplies delivery, and fire surveillance. In current emergency deployments, UAVs are primarily used for surveillance activities where they are either operated manually or along carefully planned flight routes. However, with rapidly developing artificial intelligence and advanced robotics, UAVs can perform a far broader range of tasks autonomously such as searching for drowning victims and delivering flotation devices. Greater autonomy will not only enable far more intelligent execution by UAVs in emergency response missions but will allow them to adapt their behavior to support diverse emergency scenarios that current drone applications cannot address.

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have developed DroneResponse, a system which uses multiple UAVs to assist emergency responders.  Instead of requiring manual operation of the drones from the ground, this system deploys intelligent swarms of UAVs to autonomously engage and collaborate with humans and other drones in emergency missions. The interactive configurator allows operators to quickly establish mission goals and to specify the level of permitted autonomy all within a few minutes prior to mission launch. The drones’ basic decision-making capabilities are driven by these mission goals, allowing them to interactively assist in a wide range of emergency situations as accountable, intelligent members of the emergency response team.

Market Advantages

  • Decreased configuration and mission time
  • Autonomous decision-making frees up human resources for other tasks
  • Easy configuration for diverse missions


Emergency responders such as fire fighters, EMT’s, Coast Guard, and police

Technology Readiness Level

TRL 3 - Experimental Proof of Concept


The Next Generation of Human-Drone Partnerships: Co-Designing an Emergency Response System. doi:10.1145/3313831.3376825

Requirements-Driven Configuration of  Emergency Response Missions with Small Aerial Vehicles


Richard Cox