Red Cross Launches a Drone Program to Help With Disaster Relief

Sunday, 10 September 2017 - 2:40PM
Technology
Sunday, 10 September 2017 - 2:40PM
Red Cross Launches a Drone Program to Help With Disaster Relief
CyPhy
As drones continue to become more widespread, the American Red Cross is preparing to launch one of their own to assess damages in natural disasters. The sort of thing that's good to hear, although it's surprising they weren't doing this already (recently loosened drone laws have helped).

Right now, the plan is for Red Cross to fly a single drone over Houston to determine which areas took the most damage from Hurricane Harvey and are, thus, in most need of aid. And since the damage from Harvey was so widespread, the flyover should take about a week as damages are assessed and decisions are made about where to send aid, how much to send, etc.

The drone itself comes from CyPhy Works, a company funded by UPS, who've also been recently experimenting with drones, mostly to see how well they could drop off packages for them. The CyPhy drone will be tethered to a power source, and capable of flying to heights of 400 feet for a good vantage point, according to UPS spokesman Glenn Zaccara. 


In a statement, UPS Foundation President Eduardo Martinez said the following:

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"With such catastrophic injury and damage being caused by natural disasters, every minute counts. It's essential that public and private organizations work together to find new and innovative solutions to support and enhance recovery efforts after a natural disaster strikes."
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Red Cross is definitely the biggest group flying drones over Houston currently, but they're not the only ones. Insurance agents are already sending their own quadcopters over the city to assess damages, although it's more for insurance purposes than first aid. And beyond them, the Federal Aviation Administration authorized several dozen different groups to fly drones over the city for recovery missions, or for news coverage.

Assuming all goes well with Red Cross' program, sending in drones to scout out disaster areas could become extremely crucial parts of disaster relief in the future. Between this and the recent proposal to send a drone to Saturn's moon Titan, it's good to see the technology beginning to get utilized in such radically different ways. Although there will always be exceptions.
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