Link to the website:

The rationale

Numbers concerning Search & Rescue (S&R) operations in the Alps are staggering. Considering simply S&R operations on the Italian and Swiss side of the Alps, in the last 15 years 2988 men and women were rescued in alpine accidents due to avalanches with 883 fatalities [1]. In about 1460 interventions, 45% of the rescued had not reported any consequence due to the impact with the avalanche, 26% was injured and 29% died. High-risk activities include the alpine skiing (44% of accidents), off-piste skiing (28% of accidents) and hiking (13% of accidents). A further element characterizing winter S&R is the high risk undertaken by rescuers, since they are constantly in danger of becoming themselves victims of accidents.

The project

AirBorne is a Horizon 2020 European Project whose goal is to develop a few selected robotic aerial technologies (drones) at Technology Readiness Level 8 [2] (“TRL8”) for quick localization of victims buried by avalanches by equipping them with the two forefront sensor technologies used nowadays in S&R operations in case of avalanches, namely the ARVA and RECCO. Moreover, the robotic technologies will constitute the initial “technological seed” on which an innovative ICT technology service network will be constituted at European level with the final goal of feeding professional S&R teams and associations with effective ICT technologies by creating a business opportunity and contributing to address several shortcomings of current operations.

Technological Hubs (TH) located in strategic positions on the territory and directly linked to the S&R professional teams characterize the network. The teams will be involved as advanced-users to co-develop and test the model This leads to a decentralized network structure strongly linked to the territory in which end-users play an active role in developing and promoting the technology. The TH act as pivots in which the technology is guarded on the territory and dispensed to local S&R teams and around which local communities/associations engaged in S&R activity gravitate and helping the growth of the initiative by stimulating new hubs. This model directly implements all three components of Social Innovation as defined at the EU level by meeting specific social needs, strengthening social relations and form new collaborations.



The action is coordinated by UNIBO (University of Bologna), bringing into AirBorne specific skills in automatic control and Innovation Management. Besides PlusValue, the partnership includes CAI, one of the leaders in Alpine Search and Rescue organization with the role of end-user and first “seed” of the network, XLog and RECCO, the manufacturers of the key components of the most reliable personal safety equipment for avalanche incidents, and AslaTech, a company involved in both in mechanical and electronic design activities related with automation of unmanned aerial system vehicles and responsible for the development of Airborne drones.

Our Added value

Within Airborne, PlusValue’s work focuses on:

  • Developing Airborne ’s business strategy, specifically engaging end-users in the development and diffusion of the Airborne technologies and service;
  • Developing an impact strategy, to assess the impact of Airborne during and after the 3-year project timeline.


[1] Source AINEVA and SLF

[2] Technology readiness levels (TRLs) are a method for estimating the maturity of technologies. The scale goes from 1 (Basic Principles Observed) to 9 (Successful mission operation). When TRL is 8, then the system is complete and qualified, and it is just the level before manufacturing activity start. (High Level Expert Group on Key Enabling Technologies, Final Report, 2011).