6 Reasons Drones are the Future of Disaster Relief
This is part of the series “Drones are the Future” – a collection of posts outlining the positive impact UAVs will have on our world in the not-so-distant future.
Earthquake, tornado, tsunami, floods, fires. Disaster can strike at any time, in any place. The speed of human response to aid victims is often the difference between life and death for survivors.
Disaster Relief Drones
Here is a look at 6 ways we’ll use disaster relief drones in the not-so-distant future to save lives and ease suffering in times of major crisis or calamity.
1) Assess the Situation Faster
In the case of natural disaster, such as a hurricane, flood, tsunami, or earthquake, it is often difficult to quickly assess the full extent of the damage. Blocked roadways or fallen buildings can make it impossible to reach survivors. And what happens when the calamity happens in a remote location? It can take time to mobilize an adequate first response.
A disaster relief UAV can act as an immediate “eye in the sky” to quickly collect vital information.
It can take helicopters more than an hour to get to the scene and begin gathering information. Alternatively, within three minutes drones can be operational and collecting data. They can fly into situations that pose danger to pilots or responders on the ground.
2) Create a Map
Moments after a disaster – or even while it is ongoing – drones can be deployed to create a real-time map by taking an aerial survey, sending back photos, videos, and sensor data. This map would highlight washed out roads and damaged communities.
3) Locate Survivors
An aerial view of a disaster zone can provide immediate visuals to spot survivors. Mounted infrared cameras can identify the heat signature of human bodies. Drones can be outfitted with high-tech listening devices to pick up hard-to-hear audio. UAVs armed with Wi-Fi antennae can detect the signals given off by mobile phones and plot a map that outlines the whereabouts of known victims.
4) Deliver Supplies
Disaster relief drones can deliver vital supplies such as first aid, food, water, or fuel to victims or emergency personnel on the ground.
5) Provide Internet Signal
Natural disasters usually knock out power, communications networks, and Internet access. Drones can hover over dead zones, providing an Internet signal for rescuers and victims alike. Internet signal will increase communication between survivors and those trying to assist them. Additionally, first responders can receive important real-time updates about where to go and how to do the most good.
6) Long Term Monitoring & Alerts
Drones with long battery life can continuously monitor the situation on the ground at a lower cost to helicopters. Surveillance drones can alert officials if conditions on the ground change.
Thanks to the faster response made possible by the disaster relief UAVs, many more lives can be saved. Additionally, drones provide the opportunity for significant cost savings, reducing the need for helicopters, aircraft and pilots. While the use of emergency response drones is minimal today, once disaster relief agencies adopt drones, they won’t be able to live without them. In fact, the Association Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) predicts that disaster relief UAVs will account for 10% of the future drone industry.