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Red Cross to start testing drones in disaster relief efforts



The American Red has teamed up with the UPS Foundation and drone manufacturer CyPhy Works to bring drones to sites of natural disasters. The goal is to use drones tethered to the ground to assess damages through constant aerial observations. This is where CyPhy Works comes in.

The pilot program utilizes CyPhy Works’ Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications (PARC) platform. In this test the platform will provide constant power to a drone flying stationary at 400ft through the use of a tether. Since the drone is tied to the ground, constant power can be provided from a ground-based generator thus providing uninterrupted surveillance for days or weeks at a time. A 30X zoom camera will then be used to surveil tens of miles around the drone and would be able to assess the impact of a disaster to best direct relief efforts and later to accelerate insurance payout.

The parties involved agreed to launch a one week, onsite trial in an area heavily flooded by Hurricane Harvey. If successful, it could be used again following Hurricane Irma.

The Boston-based CyPhy Works has been testing this tethered platform in different scenarios. During Forth of July fireworks and the Boston Marathon, CyPhy works provided hours of aerial surveillance to the Boston Police Department. The test with the Red Cross takes CyPhy Works out of Boston and potentially in locations without a power grid or general utilities.



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