Hope for Humanity Through UAVs
Hope for Humanity Through UAVs
Let's talk about how drones have evolved over the past few years and see some use cases where they've made life-saving progress.
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When you think of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, it easy to think of fairly rudimentary use cases like photography and aerial mapping, and the impatience of many waiting for the 'last mile' problem to be solved so companies can deliver our mail and packages by drone. But the reality is that drone technology, combined with location intelligence, AI, and advanced mapping capabilities are responding to a range of humanitarian and life-threatening disasters, often in situations aiding rescues and delivering emergency help, let's take a look:
To Maintain Communication
In natural disaster situations such as this one, drones can often be utilized to inspect areas that aren’t accessible to cars or trucks due to flooding. The use of drones allows for quicker access to these inaccessible areas that could not be inspected otherwise. They can also see parts of the towers that people can’t reach when climbing or see from observing from the ground level. They also speed up the inspection process of towers overall, because more towers can be studied in a shorter amount of time, freeing up time for making repairs.
After the decimation of the coast of Texas after Hurricane Harvey, AT&T deployed a fleet of 46 drones to inspect areas in South Texas that have been impacted. The key goals for the deployment were to check out all the towers, determine the network impact and ensure that customers continue to be able to speak to their loved ones.
To Save Lives at Sea
Earlier this year in a world first, two teenage boys were rescued by a brand new lifesaving drone in Australia. A member of the public spotted them struggling in heavy surf about 700m (2,300ft) offshore. Lifesavers instantly sent the drone to drop an inflatable rescue pod, and the pair made their way safely to shore. The ULB Marine Rescue Pod contains a platform that provides enough flotation to support 3-4 persons. The pod automatically inflates when dropped into water and are re-usable and re-packable by using a replacement CO2 inflation system. They are fitted with an automatic SOLAS light for night rescue, SOLAS grade high visibility retro-reflective tape, and can include a large sea anchor and a Shark Shield. The lightweight Pods are designed to provide that little bit of help until rescue arrives.
The Westpac Little Ripper UAV's are equipped with a range of different functionalities besides delivering rescue pods. They are able to detect sharks with high accuracy, in real-time, which allows for faster reaction times to potential shark threats at beaches. They also have rescue kits that can be delivered to remote areas during emergencies that include beacons and defibrillators and first aid kits.
Rescue Missions in the Snow
On the other side of the world, an American company, Mountain Drones, has come up with an innovative approach to avalanche safety – dropping explosives from remote-controlled aerial drones to remove the need for patrollers to put themselves in harm’s way, still in develop stages, it could be a big win for ski slope safety.
Just this month, the European Emergency Number Association (EENA), the Brussels-based public safety NGO, and DJI, the world’s leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology,c celebrated how drones have saved lives in complicated rescue missions. At the annual 112 Awards ceremony in Ljubljana, the Dalvik Search & Rescue Team from Iceland received the Outstanding Tech for Safety Award, honoring their rescue of two cousins stranded on the side of a mountain. The Dalvik team piloted a drone toward the light of one cousin’s phone, then guided a rescue team through difficult terrain and poor visibility to save them.
To Deliver Medication — and a Political Protest
In 2016, activist group Women on Waves, a non-profit group of doctors and activists from the Netherlands, delivered abortion pills by drone from Germany to Poland in an attempt to help women in the country terminate their pregnancies safely. Poland, a strictly Roman Catholic country, is one of the few places in Europe where women can get a legal abortion only if there is proof of rape or incest, the mother’s life is endangered or the fetus is severely malformed. Whatever your view on the legislation of Poland, it's an innovative way to respond to a challenging problem.
Attacking the Zika Virus Head On
This week it was announced that Swiss-American non-profit WeRobotics has developed a UAV solution to release an insect birth control that deploys radiation to sterilize male mosquitoes in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly Zika virus
According to the company: "With the drone, we can treat 20 hectares in five minutes.Weighing less than 10 kilograms, the drone can carry 50,000 sterile mosquitos per flight. At 10,000 Euro per drone, its use also reduces the cost of releasing mosquitos by half.”
Admittedly we are yet to solve the problem of the last mile of drone delivery, particularly in built-up urban areas, but the more credible use cases of drone flying are researched and promoted, the faster efforts will be made to keep aviation and legislature up to date with the technology.
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