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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SPECIAL REPORT 26 unmanned systems inside   October/November 2017 Typically, Soto would have to drive street by street to collect this kind of information, Soto said, a process that takes two to three weeks. The video the DJI drones collected, mostly using the Phantom 4 Pro, gave them a sense of the damage to a particular area, while the still imagery enabled them to bet- ter see site specific damage—support- ing, clarifying or correcting informa- tion they received from other sources. Brian Scott, owner of Upstate Aerial, served as the air liaison for the team, and coordinated with the FAA as well as emergency operation centers to plan the various f lights. The team was granted multiple authorizations a day, with the FAA doing their part to speed along the process so these and other pilots could safely f ly their missions. Scott spent a lot of time emailing and talking with the FAA, but once he es- tablished a relationship with the main contact and it became clear the volun- teers knew what they were doing, the FA A would review their request and quickly grant them permission to f ly. News Coverage Media outlets such as USA Today and ABC had drones in the air after the hurricanes to capture footage for their audiences. Brian Emfinger, a storm chaser who works for K ATV Channel 7 in Little Rock, Arkansas, traveled to Texas and Florida to take drone video for the station. He also f lew freelance missions with his personal drone for Live Storms Media, a company that sells storm footage to media outlets. His employer, Sinclair Broadca st Group (SBG), has strict guidelines about how drones can be used, espe- cially in severe weather, so much of the storm-related footage was cap- tured for LSM. Emfinger has f lown in hurricanes before, and knew the FAA would likely issue a TFR pretty quickly after Harvey made landfall. As with most storms he's covered, Emfinger was one of the first media personnel on the scene, f lying in Rockport the morning after the hur- ricane hit. There weren't any aircraft in the area yet, it was still pretty windy and rainy, so he didn't have to worry about avoiding other UAS and manned air- craft, and there were no concerns about flying over people. Once he collected the imagery, he had to drive inland 20 or 30 miles to get the video out, because there was no cell service in the area. After Rockport, Emfinger went home for a few days, then came back to cover the f looding in Beaumont and other hurricane-related stories in Houston. Before he left the state, he took some aerial footage for his freelance work, capturing images of the piles of debris that sat outside people's flooded homes. Again he headed back to Arkansas, and a few days later was on his way to Florida to cover the next big storm, Irma. During Irma, Emfinger was able to fly his drone within the eye of the storm, near Naples. Unlike when Harvey made landfall, it was light out when Irma came ashore, so he could see it coming in. The winds, at more than 100 mph, were pretty intense, and did significant dam- age to a mobile home park he was near. He captured footage there before driving north in the storm, staying in the eye to avoid the worst of the weather. Over the years, Emfinger has learned plenty of tricks to keep his drones safe when f lying in severe weather condi- tions. He f lew the Mavic from DJI in " SOMETIMES WE HAD ACCESS TO ONE SIDE OF THE RIGHT-OF-WAY, BUT WE NEEDED AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH TO GET THE OUTSIDE MATERIALS IN FOR THE REPAIRS. THERE WERE SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF MOVING WATER. THE DRONES HELPED US MORE SAFELY MOVE PEOPLE INTO THE AREAS WE NEEDED TO GO BECAUSE WE KNEW WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE." Todd Graetz, director of technology services, BNSF Railway Photos courtesy of Brian Emfinger and Live Storms Media and Parker Gyokeres. Continued from P. 20 Main Story Continued on P. 29 AFTER THE STORM

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