Most recent news about drones centers on their aggressive military use. However, the technology is easily applied to several other arenas, one of which is disaster relief.
The most notable application of drones to disaster relief is the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR). Founded by Texas A&M University professor Dr. Robin Murphy prior to the 9/11 attacks, CRASAR uses several types of robots, including unmanned ground and aerial vehicles, for search, rescue, reconstruction, restoration and structural forensics. Her mission in establishing CRASAR and still guiding CRASAR is worldwide humanitarian effort. The addition of drones to disaster response dramatically increases the effectiveness of disaster relief.
CRASAR’S humanitarian efforts were evident in:
– 2001 for the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks;
– 2004 for Hurricane Charley;
– 2005 for the La Conchita Mudslides, for Hurricane Katrina and for Hurricane Wilma;
– 2007 for the Midas Gold Mine Collapse in Nevada, the Crandall Canyon Coal Mine Collapse in Utah and the Berkman Plaza II Collapse in Florida;
– 2008 for the Berkman Plaza II Collapse for structural forensics and for Hurricane Ike;
– 2009 for the State Archives Collapse in Cologne Germany and the L’Aquila Earthquake in Italy;
– 2011 for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident and the Great East Japan Tsunami; and
– 2014 for the SR530 Mudslides.
Dr. Murphy also mentors Texas A&M graduate students in Computer Science. Texas A&M is one of approximately 350 U. S. institutions, including 14 universities and colleges, possessing FAA permits to fly UAVs for education and research. Degrees in drone piloting are conferred by 3 U. S. universities: Kansas State University, North Dakota University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.
As is often true of new technologies, military applications are initially the most obvious but non-military uses eventually appear and flourish.
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