For the first time in 50 years, the Cumbre Vieja Volcano, located in the Canary Islands, is beginning to erupt, causing many to flee the island. According to the USGS, the volcano will appear to pour 50-200 cubic meters of lava per second (13,000-53,000 gallons per second). While humans have escaped safely, animals still remain endangered, including three dogs that were abandoned on the island. At last, Spanish drone operator Aerocameras announced the plan to rescue the poor pups.
Aerocameras leader Jamie Periera explains that the company will “fly drones over to the yard with food for the pups and a camera that could help operators on the ground to find the best method to airlift them. Once the animals had some time to get used to the machines, the drones would drop cargo nets over them to pick them up one by one and carry them to safety”. After passing a drone test in which the device carried 33 pounds of weight, the company has finally received permission from authorities to conduct the operation.
However, this is only the beginning as Periera admits that the operation will be difficult and even perilous. She explains that the cargo net can only hold 50 pounds at once, which is only enough to carry one dog at a time. Moreover, the drone only has 8 minutes of battery life meaning meticulous and flawless execution is necessary. Periera discusses the tentative plans: “2 minutes to pick up one dog, 2 minutes to bring to safety, rinse and repeat. What we especially don’t want, however, is to run out of battery when flying over the lava”.
“It’s the first time an animal is being rescued with a drone and the first time it has to be captured”, explains Periera. “While we have managed to drop dog food down there with the drones, we have never formulated a plan to save them until now. It doesn’t help that volcanic eruptions damage helicopter rotors and nobody can rescue them on foot due to the island’s seclusion. Drones may be the last option we have. But we’re going after them, no matter what”.