Following a Natural Disaster and Communications Breakdown, Who are you going to Call?
One use for pilotless drones could be to provide lifesaving data and communications links after a natural disaster. A circling drone could serve as a sort of temporary AWACS (airborne warning and control system) platform, beaming broadband Wi-Fi and cell phone coverage down on an area stricken by downed power lines and damaged cell towers.
After the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, for example, an estimated 20 percent of the cell towers serving 10 states were disabled. Thousands were left without phone service at a critical time. In some cases, 911 emergency service was also put out of action when it could least afford the interruption.
AirShip Technologies Group (www.AirShipTG.org), an American Pacific Northwest firm, has developed a Use Case for persistent endurance UAV applications of broadband Wi-Fi communications for 1st Responders and consumers just after a natural disaster. The use case makes use of the AirShip Endurance V2 VTOL UAV, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with 24x7 AirScape aerial service delivery. This vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) UAV supports applications for broadband Wi-Fi communications and ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) including, but not limited to the following:
Support of search-and-rescue operations during natural disasters
Unmanned aerial system (UAS) Broadband Wi-Fi and line of sight Satellite communications
An aerial robot able to fly in and around narrow spaces and collapsed buildings. For example, search victims of accidents or natural disasters without risking human lives.
Air-sniff to identify contraband substances such as methane gas emissions, explosives and other contraband
Surveillance of suspected criminal activity
Geo information systems imagery and transmission
Area survey during high-level public events (such as visits by FEMA and/or other state and local government officials), and various types of other security surveillance