The American Red Cross and UPS are teaming up to launch a week-long test of a new disaster relief program beginning next week. They will use an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to assess the damage in Houston from Hurricane Harvey to determine which areas need more immediate assistance. This will allow the Red Cross to more efficiently deploy its response teams.
The program will use a UAV created by Massachusetts-based company Cyphy Works. Connected to a generator, the Cyphy UAV can operate for much longer than the average drone, and can provide extended visibility from 400 feet up in the air thanks to its 30x zoom camera. Success of this pilot program could lead to more use of UAVs in future disaster response initiatives, including response to the impact of Hurricane Irma, expected to make landfall in Florida this weekend.
“The measure of success for the American Red Cross on this pilot will be to prove that drones can help support, complement and accelerate the work already being done by our tremendous volunteers,” Red Cross Disaster Services VP Brad Kieserman said in a statement.