Can I use a thermal drone to find a missing animal?

What is a thermal drone?

A Thermal drone is a drone that has a Infrared radiation (IR) Sensor, often referred to as a camera. These IR sensors measure parts of the visual spectrum that represent heat energy.  IR light cannot be seen by the human eye but we can feel them by the heat they emit.

In recent years, these sensors have now been combine with a regular visual camera to help provide better interpretation of objects by outlining and highlighting objects. The thermal sensors have also gained in higher resolutions allowing them to operate from farther and higher distances.  Most 'high' resolution thermal cameras are at least 640x512 pixels and operate at 30hz frequency for best visual impact.  

Most thermal cameras use a variety of color palettes to help see the progress of temperature changes.  In the photo below the color palette is 'white hot', which means the hottest colors are closer to white, colder colors are darker.

Thermal Image from Matrice 30T

In the lower right you can see the outline of 3 people walking down the road

How can I use a thermal drone to find animals?

Modern drones have a variety of capabilities, and traditional to Search and Rescue, drones can fly pre-programmed grid patterns and record this information so it can be reviewed live and post flight.  Sometimes it is easy to spot a heat signature but many times it takes a training eye to find various color differences and shapes.

In the near future you will find drones and software will have the capabilities to automatically find and track thermal subjects such as people and animals.


Weather is a factor and time is of the essence.

Thermal drones use the differences of temperature as the primary factor in determining the imagery they show.  So the best time for using a thermal drone is typically in the morning when it has been cold overnight and the ambient air temperature is rising or later in the evening when the daytime temperature has been warm and the air temperature is falling.  Time is of the essence, If the subject (animal/person/etc) that you are trying to find matches the outside temperature then if will be near impossible to find said subject.  Deceased subjects are often near impossible to find when their temperature matches the outside weather conditions.


A note on glass and IR

Thermal images cannot look through glass.  All glass reflect IR light.  

Glass Reflects IR


There has been a number of cases at finding missing cats, dogs and other animals.  Some examples are below:

  1. Group uses infrared technology and a drone to find missing pets after Marshall Fire
  2. Thurnscoe woman helps find lost dogs with thermal imaging drone
  3. Drone Finds Missing Dog Who Was Stuck in Marsh

What Thermal Drones do you have?

We offer a variety of Thermal Drone packages to meet your needs.


  1. For Rental Options visit:
  2. For Thermal Drone Sales visit: