Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are currently causing devastation and flooding in the Caribbean and the south of the United States. In the future, drones in disaster areas could help in finding injured and needy people more quickly. Developed by UPS, the Red Cross and drone manufacturer Cyphy Works, the new system is now being tested in the states of Texas and Louisiana, where cyclone Harvey had previously raged.
This is based on wired drones equipped with a high-resolution camera with 30x zoom. The drones are fed by generator power running through the cable, allowing them to stay in the air for days. Their job is to search the surrounding area at a height of around 120 meters for anyone requiring help, along with any potential damage to buildings and infrastructure. This will make it faster to plan and conduct the necessary rebuilding efforts. The plan is to have drones assess the damage even while flooded areas are still under water.
"In view of the serious injuries and destruction caused by the forces of nature, every minute counts," explains Eduardo Martinez, President of the UPS Foundation behind the project. It is important that public and private organizations work together to find new and innovative solutions. Martinez adds this would also support and drive reconstruction work following a natural disaster.