The virtual rescue control center

The objective: to react faster in an emergency

In emergencies of any kind, every second counts for both victims and rescuers. A decisive aspect in addition to the first aid by fellow citizens is the travel time and the number of emergency services that are dispatched by the operations center.

When choosing the resources and the number, the control center is currently dependent on verbal descriptions from the first aiders present. These can be imprecise or incomplete, so the deployment scenario, the resources required and the exact location of the accident site are mostly unknown or insufficiently described until the rescue forces arrive.

A joint project with DLR

Together with the German Aerospace Center DLR – Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, we dealt with the question of how the information situation at accident sites can be improved by using video rescue drones before the first rescue workers arrive.

By using it as a mobile control center, in addition to the classic deployment scenario, ViRL enables a significantly faster and more precise overview of the accident situation to be obtained. A better assessment of the situation is therefore already possible during the journey and important decisions, such as requesting additional resources, can be made early on.

How does the ViRL work?

In contrast to the virtual rescue control center, a real rescue control center accepts emergency calls and so-called eCalls and uses the rescue service, fire brigade, technical aid agency, police and other emergency services. It decides which resources are used and which other control centers (e.g. disaster control) still need to be notified.

ViRL, on the other hand, integrates video drones into the deployment scenario and consists of two components: The first component is a background service that implements all of the mobile-necessary functionalities of a rescue control center. The second component is an app that is used as a display medium for the virtual rescue control center. It receives conventional calls and eCalls from the real rescue control center, processes live streams and can transmit assignment orders via push-to-talk communication with the drone pilot.

From the video drone, which is controlled from a separate control center (drone control center), two live streams (optical and infrared) are made available to the virtual rescue control center via the 5G service layer. These become an integrated
Object detection on vehicles, people, warning notices (danger signs, etc.). Live streams from vehicles (front camera) in the vicinity of the scene can also be shown to the operations management team. Such vehicles can then be available with ViRL as an additional source of information.

Interaction between video drone and ViRL

The ViRL acts as a hub and is not in the vicinity of the scene of the accident at the beginning of the mission (e.g. on the way there), so that there is no direct visual contact to the emergency center or the requested video drone.

The video drone is in turn controlled by a drone pilot in a separate drone control center that is neither in the vicinity of ViRL nor the scene of the accident. The operator and the head of operations in interaction with the ViRL have direct access to the onboard camera of the drone and the camera control (gimbal).

While the drone is investigating the situation at the scene of the emergency, the video stream from the drone’s onboard camera (s) is sent to ViRL and thus to the head of operations via the 5G service shift.

Drone control center

  • Sending the drone deployment data to the ViRL (geographical coordinates, time)
  • Planning, control and monitoring of drone flights
  • Dynamic adaptation of drone flights in the sense of adapting flight behavior
  • Compliance with legal, operational and technical requirements for drone flights


  • The ViRL has no direct influence on the control of the drones (the head of operations can, however, communicate with the drone pilot about the flight path via Push To Talk)
  • The ViRL receives temporal and geographical deployment data from the drone control center (deployment order)
  • The ViRL operator can change the viewing angle of the drone camera (control of the gimbal camera with a touchscreen joystick or by tapping the map)
  • The ViRL operator can arrange for situational screenshots by the drone at the location and manage them in a gallery with reference to the assignment
  • The ViRL operator receives the drone’s position data
  • The ViRL operator receives the live stream of the drone’s cameras / sensors
  • The ViRL operator receives further perspectives from the place of use through car live streams
WPS TRIAS Baustellenplanung

That is why ViRL is the right software

Lars Kölln, ViRL project manager at WPS, recognizes in the steadily increasing possibilities that drone technology offers now and in the future, a high need for software solutions that integrate this technology meaningfully into different life situations: „ViRL consistently uses the latest technical standards and gives rescue workers a decisive advantage in terms of time and information that can save lives.“

Andreas Volkert, project manager at DLR, adds: „The use of drones will continue to increase over the next few years. It is therefore important that these operations take place in a controlled and safe manner. Together with the WPS, we have succeeded in establishing a prototype application for the coordinated use of the lower airspace with the virtual rescue control center ViRL, with the help of which practical knowledge can be collected by operational managers and aid organizations for the further expansion stages of a solution development.“

ViRL: demonstration in video

You would like to learn more about the ViRL software – the virtual rescue control center for displaying operational situations and controlling Drone cameras ? Then please get in touch with our contact persons. We look forward to you!

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