The purpose of SARA project is to design and to engineer a dedicated solution, based on already existing prototype, to be used for Search and Rescue (SAR) and Surveillance operations.

This project has received funding from the European GNSS Agency (grant agreement No 776099),
under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme GALILEO-3-2017.

TopView has proudly partnered with Sistematica, MU Szczeczin, UNIFI, Aarhus University, BIP, Eurodev.


The SARA project derives from a specific request of Search and Rescue operators to design a technological solution to support vessels in detection of people lost in the sea, especially during the hours of darkness.

Authorities can benefit of SARA in the management of events related to migration flows, with particular attention to crisis in the Mediterranean Sea.


According to the above request, SARA solution is conceived to build up a semi-automatic system using Earth Observation data to preliminary detect suspect pontoons’ trajectories (Surveillance) and supporting SAR operations based upon a deployable RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) which is tightly coupled with a ship architecture through a cable (tethered flight)

Costs and deployment time

The cost and the deployment time of Sara system is very low if compared to manned helicopter operations.

POWERED BY high accuracy EGNSS

EGNSS technology provides feedback and accurate continuous measurement of the baseline from Drone to Hangar and optimization of its position.

semi-autonomous operations

The crew can operate the drone from a dedicated console inside the vessel’s command bridge.


SARA system aims to search, detect and georeference any source of heat in the darkness. SAR Operators can get thermal and optical video in real time, supporting rescuers’ action

TopView’s project contribution


SARA idea has been stimulated starting by a patent filed by TopView which is based on a proprietary RPAS multirotor, tightly coupled to an hangar able to change the RPAS exhaust battery with a charged one.

The system has been modified by the sostitution of battery change tool with a winch tool system, winding a tethering cable for power supply of the aircraft:


  • enhancing the RPAS endurance
  • supporting SAR operators 
  • Visual spectrum and Thermal Infrared payloads


meters cable extention

Meters range for detection of survivors swimming in night operations

Nautical Miles range for detection of small boats in night operations

M/s in Follow the Ship mode

System Concept


SARA is a semi-autonomous system composed by a tethered drone and its hangar, tightly coupled onboard the vessel through a strong kevlar cable used for power supply and data transmission.

Its main advantage, comparing to other drones available on market, is the possibility to deploy in a very short time a Virtual Pylon up to 100 meters above the vessel.

This means an instant aerial view around the vessel, useful to increase the situational awareness of operators in critical situation as Search and Rescue.

Moreover, it enables flight operations in poor visibility conditions by the means of satellite positioning and of visual and thermal infra-red payload.

The tethered solution clearly mitigates several risks of SAR operations, both ground-related and air-related, and not only improves the safety of people involved, but it is also useful for the risk assessments (SORA) required by new European drone regulations.