Drones for extreme events

Title of the research project

IDEAL DRONE  - Use of drones for Emergency management


Gian Paolo Cimellaro

Scientific area

Earthquake Engineering

Civil Engineering

Engineering of processes


The Ideal drone project will equip a drones swarm, flying around a building where an extreme event such as a natural disaster is happening, with a customized sensor network able to provide indoor localization of victims and rescuers and also monitor their vital parameters as well as environmental conditions.

Description of the research project 

During emergency operations such as earthquakes, fires or flooding, a fundamental challenge is to identify the position of victims and rescuers, as well as their health condition and environmental risks. Every year, many firefighters dye or get injured during rescue operations because they are the first entering in buildings damaged or in fire, without knowing the location of victims and the source of danger.

Ideal Drone is a project dedicated to provide a solution to this problem, with the objective of optimizing rescue operations. The prototype that will be realised consists in a localizing system able to identify the position of victims and rescuers inside buildings during catastrophic events, using a radio frequency network based on fixed nodes (anchors) able to detect the location of people wearing specific devices (tags). The novelty of the project IDEAL DRONE is to install the anchors on an unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) swarm that is flying around the building or the area where the disaster is happening. Every person wearing the tag will be able to transfer to the external temporary network, his/her precise position, but also other data such as cardiac frequency, body temperature and local humidity, using a communication system based on radio frequency  transceiver, GPS and Bluetooth. The system will not need internet connection and will work also in case of blackout.

Impact on society 

The project will realize a prototype of the described system and evaluate its possible commercialization. The adoption of those systems from firefighters but also industries those workers act in possibly dangerous situations could make rescue operations less risky and reduce the number of deaths and injuries between victims and rescuers in case of natural and non natural disasters.

Short CV of project coordinator 

Associate Professor in the Civil Engineering Dpt. of the Politecnico di Torino  and Visiting Professor at the Univ. of California, Berkeley. He obtained his M.S. (2005) and Ph.D. (2008) from the Univ. at Buffalo (SUNY) in USA.  Graduated cum laude in Civil Engineering, University of Rome La Sapienza, 2001.  He is the Chair of the ASCE Committee on “Disaster Resilience of Structures, in USA.  He has been invited to 3 Keynote lectures and 30 seminars worldwide. He has authored 40 journal papers, 98 conference papers, 11 book chapters and 2 books.  Research interests: community disaster resilience and sustainability to natural disasters.  Selected awards: Fib Achievement Award for Young Engineers (2011); Seed Grant Award from the Siebel Energy Institute of UC Berkeley (2015). 

Ideal Drone project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme  grant agreement No 875183

  • Budget: 150.000 euro
  • Start date: 1/10/2020
  • End date: 31/03/2022