A new drone from Parrot has the potential to help. Outfitted with a thermal camera, the Bebop Pro Thermal can fly over devastated areas and feed a live image back to an app, providing up-to-date status information and identifying hot spots — including the heat given off by a survivor’s body. Parrot announced a pair of new mid-range professional drones on Tuesday. The two devices have very specific jobs and are meant to fill in a need between consumer drones and pricy commercial offerings. The $1,500 Parrot Bebop-Pro Thermal is for construction, inspection, and public safety workers. In addition to search and rescue, its two cameras can be used to see where heat is escaping from a roof, or what areas are still too hot after a fire.
The company is also releasing a drone for farmers with mid-sized crops. Small enough to fit in a carry-on suitcase, the $5,000 Bluegrass drone uses a front-facing camera and built-in sensor for precision agriculture. It can fly for 25 minutes on one charge, covering 30 hectares of land. The drone feeds footage back to a companion app and can tell a farmer if a crop is healthy. It can even be used to keep an eye on livestock. Parrot (PAOTF) is a 23-year-old French technology company that has shifted almost entirely to drones in recent years. It’s also investing heavily in innovation — of it’s 700 employees, more than half are working in research and development, according to the company. It is mostly well known for its consumer drones — fun and affordable quadcopters that can be used to shoot video and take photos. It also makes commercial drones including fixed wing unmanned aircraft. Those devices typically cost more than $10,000 and are used by large companies, like industrial farms.