Why did scientists teach a drone to listen for screams?

Answer: To help find people during disasters.

A team of researchers has developed a system for drones that allows them to pick up on the sound of human screams. Designed for use in disaster scenarios, the system can not only detect the sounds of people screaming for help but can also figure out the general location the sound is coming from.

The team built their scream-seeker by putting together a database of screams and other sounds that people might make when trying to make their presence known to rescuers, including clapping, stomping and tapping. They then used deep learning techniques to teach the system to identify these noises, picked up through digital microphones, and pinpoint where they came from.

The system can be added to any drone, so first responders wouldn’t have to buy new devices in order to adopt it. “Our idea would be flying outdoors and finding noises coming from collapsed buildings, but this array could be used in numerous other situations and could be used by a person carrying it,” said Macarena Varela, one of the researchers who developed the technology. “Drones can cover much bigger areas quicker than people on the ground, but of course it could also be used by rescuers who are maybe not hearing the noises and who could walk around with it.”
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