Drones to Help in Emergencies

In the future, drone technologies could be deployed to allow citizen scientists plus residents in rural and urban areas to assist first responders in managing disasters at a more rapid or even real-time pace.

UPS Foundation https://sustainability.ups.com, American Red Cross www.redcross.org and drone manufacturer CyPhy Works Works Inc. www.cyphyworks.com recently announced a partnership to launch a drone pilot program. This is the first time the American Red Cross will test using a tethered drone to assess damage after a major natural disaster in the U.S.

Given the magnitude for recovery efforts needed after catastrophic hurricanes, the partners decided to begin a pilot to test the use of drones. UPS, the American Red Cross, and CyPhy will deploy the drone and conduct a one week on site test in an area badly affected by flooding and greatly in need for rapid response teams to come to the site.

The CyPhy Works “Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications” (PARC ™) system is being evaluated to see if it can be effective in supporting ground-based response teams. The tethered drone will go up 400 feet to provide aerial observation and enable the 30X zoom camera to provide tens of miles of visibility with uninterrupted coverage at a disaster site for days or weeks.

According to Lance Vanden Brook, CEO, CyPhy Works, Inc. “PARC will provide first responders and recovery crews with a stable fixed location point of observation to help capture crucial images without interruption.”

Automation and robotics has long been a focus for UPS which has been exploring the use of drones to deliver humanitarian aid to hard-to-reach parts of the world. Last year, UPS entered into a public-private partnership with Zipline http://flyzipline.com, a California-based robotics company, and the Gavi Vaccine Alliance www.gavi.org  to create the first national medical drone delivery network in Rwanda.

In addition, last September, UPS and CyPhy Works conducted a test using a drone to deliver urgently needed medical products to a remote difficult-to-access location off the coast of Massachusetts.

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