Skip to main content

Forerunner drone accompanying moving ambulance and developed by SZE and SZTAKI tested in urban environment


Researchers from the Széchenyi István University (SZE) in Győr and the ELKH Institute for Computer Science and Control (SZTAKI) have presented their joint precursor drone development on the occasion of the Safety Week, an event held between September 19 and 24. With the help of the Hungarian National Ambulance Service, as part of targeted testing carried out on the ZalaZONE Test Track, the developers demonstrated that with the help of the forerunner drone accompanying an ambulance in an urban environment, areas hidden from the driver can be seen in advance and hazards emerging from these areas can be pre-signaled.

The goal of this unique project is to develop a forerunner drone equipped with a camera that can accompany a moving emergency unit – an ambulance, fire engine or police car – from the air, preferably in front of it. In this way, areas hidden from the driver's view and hazards emerging from these areas can be signaled in advance, helping to prevent tragedies similar to the ambulance accident in Csepel, Budapest in May.

In the Smart City module of the ZalaZONE Automotive Test Track, as part of a test carried out with the support of the Association of Hungarian Insurers the developers demonstrated that vehicles blocked from the approaching ambulance by the surrounding walls in an urban environment could be identified with the help of the forerunner drone, thus avoiding a collision. This test has demonstrated the feasibility of the idea.

Due to its technical characteristics the experimental drone, the DJI M600 hexacopter, can only be used during low-speed urban tests and the researchers used simulations to investigate faster maneuvers. In addition to solving the technical difficulties, legal and regulatory issues related to drone flights over cities and highways, as well as the continuous camera recording of traffic must also be clarified in order to use the system in the future.

A video of the event can be viewed here.

The presentation in the recording demonstrates the results of the developments executed within the framework of the "Development of innovative vehicle industry testing and inspection competencies in the Western Hungarian region relying on the infrastructure of the Automotive Test Track in Zalaegerszeg GINOP-2.3.4-15-2020-00009" project in the sub-project FT2 "Autonomous near-Earth aerial solutions", as part of the "Pioneer drone research" performed at the István Széchenyi University.