COLLEGE STATION, Texas - For decades, it was just pilots that operated aircraft during natural disaster rescue and recovery efforts, but due to constantly advancing technology, drones or UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicle) are being used more and more to aid during these catastrophic events.
After hurricanes Harvey and Irma left behind massive damage, researchers from A&M helped put much needed eyes in the sky.
According to Robin Murphy, director of the Center for Robot Assisted Search and Rescue, these unmanned aircrafts have played a crucial role in the recovery efforts following multiple catastrophic hurricanes.
“We've been using these unmanned aerial systems for disaster since 2005, during Hurricane Katrina, we were the first group to ever use them for a disaster,” said Murphy.
The size and mobility of these small aircrafts allows researchers to gather real time land surveys on the conditions of areas affected and access areas that larger crafts may be unable to go, and Murphy says these aircrafts weren’t just helpful during Harvey.
“We immediately went into Irma, one of our partners that was a mainstay at Harvey was Florida State, who little unknown to them, as we started watching that fishtail of Irma was like "oh no". So they were called out in advance and then we went and joined them.
As part of the major group efforts murphy says their support aided in the largest deployment of small unmanned aircrafts in US history.