Drone's Eye View
The American Red Cross is preparing to utilize a drone for the first time as it takes stock of the damage done to Houston by Hurricane Harvey. Imagery supplied by the drone will help the organization determine which areas require the most aid.
A single drone will be deployed, embarking upon a one-week test flight in an area of the city that was hit particularly badly. The drone will be supplied by CyPhy Works, and is funded by UPS — the logistics company has invested money in the drone maker with a view to using its technology to deliver packages.
The images gathered by the drone will primarily be used to help the Red Cross as it works to help Houston residents that were affected by the hurricane get back on their feet. However, the organization has stated that it's open to sharing the imagery with other groups if it would be of use. Insurance companies are already using drones to assess the damage, in the hopes of speeding up the process of issuing payouts.
In the wake of a disaster like Hurricane Harvey, evaluating the aftermath is a top priority. In order to return some sense of normalcy as quickly as possible, various organizations need to get a good look at the situation — but accessing the flooded parts of Houston can be perilous.
With the advance of climate change, we're likely to see the frequency of major hurricanes and other natural disasters increase like we've not seen for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Needless to say, the non-mortal assistance of unmanned drones will be of crucial importance in the coming decades.
Using a drone negates the need for a human to put themselves in a potentially dangerous situation. That's why we're seeing this technology implemented in risky scenarios ranging from combat operations to shark-infested waters.
The Red Cross is classifying this particular launch as a test-run, but there are plans to expand its usage if it turns out to be successful. The organization will consider the deployment of a drone to survey damage caused by Hurricane Irma if the results are satisfactory.