Humanitarian Drone Use

Hovering drone that takes pictures of city sights

Drones Consigned to Rescue Duty

Syria’s civil war presents an unusual opportunity for drone usage.

What use for drones qualifies as unusual anymore? Online shoppers await drone deliveries from Amazon and pizza joints. Recent implementation along the Grecian coast has given drones another title for their resume: humanitarian.

Refugees who bypass land to places such as Iraq and Jordan often take to Mediterranean waters. Those who approach the coast of the Greek island Lesvos might meet EMILY – the Emergency Integrated Lifeguard Lanyard from Texas A&M University.

EMILY is a human controlled 4-foot buoy. She’s tethered to a boat with 2,000 feet of slack, to roam coastal waters for migrants lost at sea. Fotokites, tethered quadracopters with cameras, serve as EMILY’s eyes on the waters. They can rise to heights of 30 feet to provide visuals.

Dropping aid all over the world

Current projects simmer in crowd-sourcing, waiting for funds to get off the ground.

Meet drone hobbyist Bill Pierda. He envisions common drones with life preservers attached, to reach those in distress quickly. His project, Ryptide, mimics an Iranian counterpart known as Pars Drone.  Unlike the Pars Drone, though, Pierda’s vision involves drones you could buy from the local big box.

Life preservers on the Ryptide drone inflate when they hit the water. Speed of deployment adds to the mission’s effectiveness. Ryptide follows the example of quick emergency delivery established by projects such as Ambulance Drone and Defikopter, which transport defibrillators where needed.

“I completely understand the interest in drones and why people want to use them,” Mark Bathrick

Houston, we have a problem

Drone use has taken off quicker than the Federal Aviation Administration could keep up.

Mark Bathrick is an expert on unmanned aircraft systems who consults for the White House and FAA. He told a Startup Grind gathering in Boise that an $89 billion industry hangs in the balance. Private sector operation could congest airspace in a hurry.

Also, these features heighten concern about privacy and safety:

HIGH-POWERED RADIOS | Transmission to and from drones becomes easy as mobile-to-mobile communication, and possible use by terrorists.

ON-BOARD CAMERAS | Drones no bigger than a medium pizza could gain surveillance of just about any open space.

“I completely understand the interest in drones and why people want to use them,” Bathrick told the Boise crowd. “It’s really amazing technology. What I hope is that the people who have (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) use them responsibly so this industry can grow to its full potential.”