Hopes of finding a missing teenager have been reignited through the collaboration of UCLan’s Civic Drone Centre with IRIS Group, a robotics Managed Services company to solve the mysterious disappearance of 18 year-old Fredrik Johannessen Lie on January 1st 2015 following a road traffic incident. Frederik was last seen leaving the scene of the accident in the vicinity of Ekerhovd on Sotra in western Norway. Police and rescue teams joined the search for Frederick but despite combing several hundreds of acres of nearby forests and fields failed to find any trace of his whereabouts.

IRIS Group approached the Civic Drone Centre at the University of Central Lancashire after reading about AeroSee – their crowd sourced search and rescue drone – to see if this technology could be deployed in the search for Frederick Lie. Jahn Petter Berentsen, the MD of IRIS Group Nordic and a former chairman for the Norwegian Red Cross Search and Rescue Corps said ‘by bringing together unmanned airborne technology and new software, large numbers of people can now just go online and quickly search very large areas in minutes, supporting and hopefully reducing the need to mobilise large numbers of personnel on the ground, which can take several hours and can be dangerous.”

Back in 2013, the Civic Drone centre first tested their AeroSee software with the Patterdale Mountain Rescue team in the English lake District to trial how members of the public located around the world could monitor images from a UAV (drone), and ‘tag’ a lost hiker. The test, which took place in July 2013, saw 335 people collaborate to find the ‘missing hiker’. It took them just 69 seconds.

Prof. Paul Egglestone of UCLans Civic Drone Centre said: “This is the first time the AeroSee project has been deployed in a real life search operation. The original AeroSee project encouraged ordinary citizens to join in the rescue operation, but in this case our virtual search agents are not members of the public, they’re search and rescue professionals.”

Dr Darren Ansell heads up Engineering at the Civic Drone Centre. He said “This will be a real technical challenge for the Civic Drone Centre team. The search area is huge. Weather is always an issue but we believe our partnership with

IRIS Group who are providing their expertise and platforms will give us the opportunity to demonstrate the capability of AeroSee in difficult circumstances. We expect to learn a lot in the process and we know the data provided during the flight will assist the professional search teams in their endeavours to find Mr Lie”.

AeroSee is unique in uniting Unmanned Aerial Vehicle technology with the ‘power of the crowd’. It also seeks to capitalise on some of the key attributes of the burgeoning UAV technology field, and examine how the devices can be used for socially-motivated purposes.

Andrew Ireland is Executive Dean of College of Culture and Creative Industries, home to the Media Innovation Studio. He said “The AeroSee project represents the enormous potential in the UK HE sector, bringing together specialists from different disciplines to, in this example, refocus drone technology as a power for good. The fact that our crowd-sourcing approach delivers a faster response than a computer demonstrates the potential of exploring human / digital interactions.”