ARMCHAIR web surfers are being recruited to help trial new ‘drone technology’ – usually seen in warzones – which could help save lives on the Lake District fells.

Thanks to a new app, anyone with access to a PC, tablet or mobile phone should be able to take part in a search and rescue operation being tested by Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team next week.

“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.”

The technology, being tested on July 25, was developed by scientists from the Aerospace and Media Innovation Studio at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). The ‘Aerosee’ drone transmits images of the fells to an app, which participants will be able to tag if they spot something amiss.

The image will then be relayed to the mountain rescue team for exploration.

Studio director Paul Egglestone said: “Drones get lots of bad press as they’re usually associated with civilian casualties in military theatres. The unique thing about our approach is that we’re inviting civic-minded people to give up 20 minutes of their time to help save a life on the mountainside.

“It turns the whole drone debate on its head and encourages people to participate, wherever they are, using digital technology to do it.”

At the testing event, the team will launch the drone from the sports field at Glenridding, where it will embark on a 20-minute flight covering 10k2 in search of a missing hiker, planted by the researchers.

Any person interested in taking part in the trial on line can do so by following the instructions at