1,000 People Saved by Drones Globally, According to DJI’s Drone Rescue Map

BY Zacc Dukowitz
25 July 2023

Three years back, DJI launched its Drone Rescue Map to track life-saving rescues made by drones throughout the world.

Now that map has hit 1,000 people saved. These rescues happened in over 600 individual rescue incidents, which took place in 39 different countries throughout the world.


What kinds of rescues does the map capture?

In a recent rescue recorded on the map—one that’s illustrative of the types of rescues the map contains—two hikers in New York State got lost at night. Using a drone equipped with a thermal camera, the local Sheriff’s Office was able to find them and help them return to safety.

2 lost hikers found in Dutchess County thanks to drone

It’s now common knowledge that drones are used for a huge array of important tasks, an idea summed up under the popular term “drones for good”.

But when it comes to the good work being done with drones, the Drone Rescue Map is unique, because it’s one of the only places where an effort has been made to fully account for all of the positive work done with drones in a certain category.

We are grateful that civilian drones have saved so many people around the world. We appeal to the public and other stakeholders in society to spread the word about how drones can really help and that restricting rescue agencies’ access to this technology—because of lack of funding or for other reasons—puts lives at risk.

– Adam Welsh, Global Head of Policy at DJI

What Is a Drone Rescue?

For the purposes of DJI’s map, a drone rescue is an incident in which a drone:

  • Found missing people
  • Brought supplies to trapped survivors
  • Peered through smoke and darkness to find unconscious victims

It’s important to note that DJI doesn’t necessarily count rescues in which a drone was simply used as part of a rescue effort. If a drone is one of the tools deployed in a search and rescue effort, for example, but a first responder on the ground finds the missing person without the use of the drone, that wouldn’t count.

Credit: DJI

To qualify as a drone rescue for the map, the drone has to be a key part of rescuing someone from peril—either saving their life or removing them from imminent danger.

The drone must have made a difference in accomplishing the rescue faster, safer, more easily or more effectively than would have been possible without the drone.

– DJI’s Drone Rescue Map

The map isn’t limited to DJI drones. It represents all drone rescues DJI has found, regardless of the company that made the drone.

To find the rescues captured in the map, DJI scours news stories and social media posts from around the world, tracking down and verifying drone rescue accounts.

DJI also accepts tips. If you know of a drone rescue, you can share it with DJI using this form.

[Related read: What Is a Public Safety Drone? An In-Depth Guide—Including 54 Use Cases]

Highlights from the Drone Rescue Map

The Drone Rescue Map is interactive, letting you dive deeper into each country so you can read about the individual rescues that have taken place.

In North America alone, DJI has recorded 303 rescues since the map launched in 2022—almost a third of all the rescues it contains.

Here are a few rescues that stood out to us.

Teen Saved from Drowning

In Valencia, Spain last year, a drone dropped a life vest to a 14-year-old boy who was struggling to stay afloat in the ocean, saving his life. Read about the rescue.

Drone saves 14-year-old from drowning in Spain

Girl Found in Hours

In Ellensburg, Washington this year, a 3-year-old girl who ran off from her family’s remote home was found in a shallow ravine after a two-hour search when a police drone operator located her in the brush. Read about the rescue.

Man Crashes Motorbike into Slot Canyon, Found by Drone

In Warner Valley, Utah this year, a police sergeant fell into a narrow slot canyon while riding his motorbike. He was alone, and trapped there for several hours before friends began searching for him, finally finding him by drone. In total it took over 20 hours from the crash to when he was removed from the canyon, which was accomplished using a hoist attached to a helicopter. Read about the rescue.


Man Saved in Deep Snow

In the Willamette National Forest, Oregon this year, a man became stuck in deep snow while driving on an old forest road. With no cell service due to his remote location, he attached a phone to his Mavic 3 and flew it into the air as it was trying to send a text. Once the drone got high enough the text went through, notifying authorities of his situation so that he could be rescued. Read about the rescue.

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