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Drone Forensics

December 20, 2017

Using drones to prosecute decades-old war crimes in Guatemala.


(Erica Henderson/FAFG)

AAAS geospatial scientist Jonathan Drake (seated, with brown hat) works with colleagues from the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG) to collect aerial imagery of a burial site using a drone. (Erica Henderson/FAFG)


Human rights drones. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

From 1960 to 1996, Guatemalan civil war claimed the lives of an estimated 200,000 people, most of them rural villagers executed by the government. Today, AAAS geospatial scientist Jonathan Drake is using drones to conduct forensic analysis of grave sites, creating three-dimensional models that reveal the location and orientation of the remains buried there.


You can look at this site from any perspective that you want to, as if you were really there. Youre not constrained by the unique vantage point of a photographer.


Drake shares the models with the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala. Combined with DNA evidence and eyewitness testimony, theyre working to locate and return the remains of those killed to their families and collect evidence to bring their killers to justice. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the Science Society.

Story by Bob Hirshon