A team from the FAA test site for drones in Texas spent quite a bit of time flying a drone along the Blanco River to aid search and rescue efforts following severe storms that took the lives of at least 17 beautiful people in the states of Texas and Oklahoma.
Jerry Hendrix, primary engineer at the Lone Star UAS Center at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, brought a team of 8 professional drone operators and 4 drones to Wimberley, Texas to assist with the search and rescue efforts.
The benefits of using drones is that they can safely fly lower than helicopters, and provide aerial video footage at a fraction of the cost of using helicopters. Hendrix’s team spent a couple of days flying the drones and live streaming the videos in an effort to find stranded people and livestock.
“Is there something that’s white? Is there a garment in there?” Hendrix explained. “Is there a color that could represent a body? Is there other debris that doesn’t normally go with that particular area?”
The team of drone operators didn’t find any bodies but said the whole exercise was a great learning experience for the team, which hopes to use what they learned at this natural disaster site on future search and rescue missions.
“We’re used to conducting testing in a controlled environment. In this case we’re in a chaotic environment,” Hendrix said. “We’re still trying to understand and assess where drones can be used in the search and rescue and how to coordinate with the manned operations.”
Original story via the Washington Post