A SEARCH and rescue drone which can be used by armchair web surfers to locate missing walkers has been shortlisted as a ‘top design’ of 2013.

AeroSee, which transmits images of the fells to an ‘app’ so they can be tagged by anyone who spots something amiss, cut a rescue mission down to just 69 seconds when it was tested by Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team last year.

Now the technology, developed by the University of Central Lancashire, has been shortlisted and will be be shown throughout the summer as part of the Design Museum’s ‘Designs of the Year’ exhibition.

“It’s a privilege to be included in an exhibition whose previous winners include Shepard Fairey’s fantastic Obama posters, the Olympic torch and the one laptop per child project,” said Paul Egglestone, director of the university’s Media Innovation Studio, which helped develop the technology.

“It’s also great to know the design community are happy to experiment with new ways of including people who might feel they’re not part of that community in the traditional sense.”

Anyone with access to a PC, tablet or mobile phone is able to use the app, potentially cutting rescue missions down from hours to just minutes.

When Patterdale mountain rescuers trialled the technology in July last year, 335 people took part in a hunt for a 'missing hiker'.

“Mountain rescue is changing as new technology is available,” said Patterdale’s team leader Mike Blakey.

“Drones may be really useful in some scenarios and the idea of getting people to help with the rescue operation wherever they are in the world is a really interesting idea that taps into all the social media ways that people are using digital technology.”

Dr Darren Ansell, space and engineering lead in the School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences, added: “It has the potential to support a lot of civic duties in the future, such as supporting more search and rescue teams, assisting the fire services and helping with wildlife conservation.

“At UCLan we are proud to be nominated for this design award.”

AeroSee will be appearing with some of the 80 shortlisted concepts from March 26. For details of the exhibition visit designmuseum.org/exhibitions