Drone / Robotics Technologies

List of drone/surveillance technologies

Posted March 1, 2021 by Soichi Hayashi

Eyes in the sky. Delivering

Usage Classes of Drones

Preparedness: Monitoring volcanic activity in order to determine when warnings should be issued

Response: Delivering equipment to locations where ground-based transportation has been disrupted;

Recovery, such as photographing disaster areas for damage assessments.

Above Ground Drones / UAV

Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) provide ground crews with an “eye in the sky” that allows them to gain a full picture of the fire/flooding, including which areas are most affected and where emergency responses may be required next.

“Essentially, every drone that flew meant that a traditional aircraft was not putting an additional strain on an already fragile system” [Interdrone 2018, keynote speaker, FAA administrator Michael Huerta]

Organizations are working to mobilize Part 107 pilots and Part 333 exempt businesses to work together on emergency response. The ability of drones to quickly find areas of greatest need is an invaluable resource to first responders. [https://www.dronefly.com/blogs/news/drones-flooding-sar-disaster/]

Use Cases

  • The first documented use of aerial drones was in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina in the United States of America. [https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Emergency-Telecommunications/Documents/2019/GET_2019/Disruptive-Technologies.pdf] Because roads were blocked by trees, drones were deployed to search for survivors and assess river levels.

  • Fire: CAL Fire (Calfornia department of forestry and fire protection) worked together with California Air national Guard to pinpoint areas of quickly progressing fire.

  • Fire: DJI Research in 2016 has shown that that rescue teams utilizing drones were able to help locate people in need of help much more quickly, and as a result were much faster at getting them needed support.

  • Hurricanes: Robin Murphy of Texas A&M used drones to assess flood damage, and predict areas of future flood risk.

  • Earthquakes: Fall of 2017 saw a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit Mexico City, leaving much of the city in ruins. DroneSky, a drone mapping company based in Mexico City, jumped to the aid of the city by creating a map of the hard-hit Xochimilco district, and individual maps of specific buildings that had sustained major damage. [https://www.dronefly.com/blogs/news/drones-flooding-sar-disaster/]

  • Search and Rescue: In nighttime searches, or in areas of dense foliage, or in the case of victims trapped in rubble, search and rescue operations can make use of thermal imaging cameras.

  • Search and Rescue: One basic add-on that is immensely useful in search and rescue operations is a simple spotlight. For night-time rescue efforts, a light attached to a drone, in tandem with live video streaming, makes it practical and straightforward to search large areas in a short space of time.

  • Search and Rescue: In situations where a specific individual needs to be identified out of a crowd (or amidst rubble or other background distractions), the ability of most drone cameras to zoom in enables easy and accurate facial identification.

Underwater Drones

Underwater drones can also help responders examine infrastructure and coordinate rescue efforts in heavily flooded areas. Measuring ocean heat fuelling the hurricane and transmitting data to the National Weather Service.

Use Cases

Underwater drones were used during the 2018 Hurricane Florence in the United States of America. measuring ocean heat fuelling the hurricane and transmitting data to the National Weather Service.

The data filled in gaps left by satellite images, thus improving hurricane modelling. The data also enhanced forecasting the intensity and route of the hurricane, and sensors attached to the drones measured salinity levels to determine how much water from rain and rivers was mixing in the ocean.


Robots have become more sophisticated through integration with microprocessors and sensors. Their growing dexterity makes them suitable for disaster situations that are too dangerous for humans or rescue animals

Use Cases

Search-and-rescue robots were first used following the September 2011 terrorist attack in New York City to assess the wreckage of the demolished World Trade Center. Since then, more than 50 deployments of robots for disaster use have been reported. Breakthroughs are being achieved in Japan, where there is the possibility for commercialization of robots designed specifically for disasters.

Case Studies

– For each cell, score 1) importance/effectiveness 2) maturity of the technology 3) cost/benefit?

DisasterAbove Group DronesUnderwater Drones
Flooding / Surveillance105
Flooding / Mapping105


  • https://www.domesticpreparedness.com/preparedness/more-floods-more-effective-flood-fighting-technology/
  • https://www.dronefly.com/blogs/news/drones-flooding-sar-disaster/

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