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BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Researchers at the University of Colorado have developed a new way to cover more ground with fewer resources — swarming drones.

swarming drones 12vo frame 148 CU Researchers Develop Swarming Drones Technology

(credit: CU Boulder)

The technology allows for a single operator to control a number of drones at the same time. It could be used for many scenarios, including searching for lost hikers.

swarming drones 12vo frame 0 CU Researchers Develop Swarming Drones Technology

(credit: CU Boulder)

The team from CU spent three weeks in the Pawnee National Grasslands testing the technology after their program testing plan was approved by the FAA.

“The idea is to make technology that allows drones, or unmanned aircraft as we call them, to work together,” said Associate Professor Eric Frew.

swarming drones 12vo frame 208 CU Researchers Develop Swarming Drones Technology

swarming drones 12vo frame 748 CU Researchers Develop Swarming Drones Technology (credit: CU Boulder)

“What we were doing recently is flying some of the technology to show how three drones could work together to find — in this case — a lost radio beacon.”

The idea is intriguing for people like Grand County Search and Rescue spokesman Chris Ziegler.

“Manpower and time. I usually don’t have much of either one. And the use of drones, to run 30 drones at once with a central monitoring station? Quite impressive,” Ziegler said.

dougco drone rescue CU Researchers Develop Swarming Drones Technology

(credit: Douglas County Search and Rescue)

Earlier this year, searchers used a drone to find missing hikers in the Pike National Forest.

“Then you think safety — that I can put a drone into a position instead of a teammate? Yeah, we’d be all about that,” said Ziegler.

There’s no timetable so far for when rescue crews in Colorado might be able to use the technology.

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