Inside Unmanned Systems

OCT-NOV 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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15 unmanned systems inside October/November 2017 ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. Within weeks of each other, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma made landfall in the U.S., leaving behind flooding and massive damage. Drone operators flew a variety of missions to help with recovery efforts, including mapping flooded and wind-damaged areas, inspecting power lines, cell towers and railways, and collecting information to document the devastation for media reports and to help speed up damage assessments and insurance claims. D rone operator Dallas Griffin lives just north of Beaumont, Texas, one of the many areas in the Lone Star state hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. While the flood wa- ters didn't reach his home, that wasn't the case for many members of his community—which is why he decided to fly his unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to help in any way he could. The county's drone operator was stuck in Houston when Harvey hit Beaumont and the surrounding areas, so Griffin stepped up, pro- viding emergency management services person- nel with aerial imagery to help them determine where resources were needed most. He flew his DJI Inspire 1 over highways as the waters reced- ed, looking for damaged bridges and washed out roadways. The imagery revealed a level of dam- age well beyond what officials were expecting. Having access to this information so quickly allowed them to better coordinate with the state, Griffin said, and get manpower out to the most damaged areas as fast as possible. "They couldn't afford to pay me for my ser- vices, but I told them this is my home, too, and if I can be of service, just say the word and there will be no charge," said Griffin, managing mem- ber of Lone Star UAViators. "When the clouds broke and the sun finally came out, I could get photos and videos of the full effect of what had taken place. You could see areas that were going to have potential problems. Seeing the damage to the bridges and the side of roadways made them question if other bridges they couldn't see were still there. They were happy to have an ad- vanced picture of what they were going to be dealing with as the water went down." Griffin is among many UAS operators who either volunteered their time or worked as part of a company drone program after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Mapping f looded and wind- damaged areas, gathering imagery for the media, collecting information for insurance claims, and inspecting power lines, cell towers and railways represent the many ways drones were used in the aftermath of these disasters. Drones were deployed after Hurricane Harvey to document the devastation and help with damage assessments.

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