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Investigating the Automation of Locating Wandering Patients with Dementia using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and its Associated Applications

N-CART Network-Centric Applied Research Team logo

Project Team Members: Dalia Hanna (PhD Candidate), Alex Ferworn (Professor, Computer Science)

Our proposed project will support search-and-rescue efforts in locating wandering patients with dementia using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). UAVs have the potential to offer solutions in a wide range of applications, including search and rescue (SAR) and disaster management. The goal is to design an algorithm/theoretical model to predict and detect wandering patients.

How does your project remove barriers for people with disabilities and/or aging populations?

Our experiments will continue and seek to add to the body of knowledge that supports the more efficient and effective use of drones within the field of computational public safety. In addition, the outcome of this research may inform SAR and safety policies.

Where did the idea for your project come from?

The deployment of UAVs is an emerging area, as the drone market is quickly expanding and their presence is becoming ubiquitous. UAVs have the potential to offer solutions in a wide range of applications.

What are the goals and objectives of your project?

The key goals of our project include analyzing data to develop an understanding of wandering behaviours; developing a predicted optimal path for wandering patients; conducting field tests on wandering people using current SAR statistical models and simulations; developing a methodology/algorithm to predict the path for wandering people; and testing the automation of a UAV’s search for wandering people based on that model.

Who is the target audience for your project?

Our project is geared towards search-and-rescue teams, security in long-term care facilities, and caregivers who are caring for elderly persons.

What did you and your team gain from being involved in the Accessibility Project?

The Accessibility Project provided us with the ability to get a drone and do field tests. These tests provided real-life simulations and an opportunity to collect valuable data. Also, it provided access to additional support for analysis of the data from international databases for lost persons with dementia. Finally, through this project, we were able to be included as part of the international consortium on dementia and wayfinding – a group of SAR teams, researchers, and industry professionals from around the world.

What are your future plans for your project?

After the algorithm has been designed and its viability has been tested, we plan to develop a real-life game for training purposes.