Andy Trench, Peter Haas, and Kyla Coburn of XactSense have initiated “Drones For Disaster Relief ” and are employing drones to inspect and support the relief efforts in Nepal.
Working with their partners Opu of Cygnus Aerial, and Lama Rangbar of Bodhivastu Foundation, XactSense’s initiative is supporting Cygnus Aerial who, when hearing of the disaster, packed up his equipment in Bangledesh and has been in the disaster zone since day two with a fleet of UAV (drones).
Lama Rangbar contacted Andy almost immediately after the quake looking for help with inspection mapping and search and rescue. Bangladesh based Opu of Cygnus was a first responder and has been on the ground since day two using small UAVs to help search and rescue teams and assist with analyzing building safety. Opu has said “The UN very much appreciates our support and the volunteers are relying on the bird’s-eye-video.”
Andy Trench of XactSense says “The goal is to immediately get thermal cameras in the air over a disaster site … there is no question that scanner equipped UAV’s assisting first responders will be an incredible life saving tool in tragedies like these.”
Peter Haas of XactSense has had much experience in situations like this. In 2010 the NGO he co-founded, the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group (AIDG), ran the first teams of structural engineers to do building assessment for the UN after the Haiti earthquake. They inspected 1500 buildings for risk of collapse, from schools to food warehouses. In Haiti the post earthquake inspection process took months and kept many people who had homes in tents while they awaited assurance they could re-enter their dwellings. Haas gave a TED talk on this experience (http://www.ted.com/talks/peter_haas_haiti_s_disaster_of_engineering/). He is a firm believer that UAVs can speed the inspection and recovery process.
Kyla Coburn of XactSense said, “Our initial push for Nepal has been to equip and fund our team already on the ground. In the weeks and months that follow this disaster, our longer mission becomes training engineers to utilize these new tools. We will be shifting towards inspection of existing buildings and infrastructure to help prevent extensive damage like this quake caused.”
Opu told Andy Trench after flying his UAV over a family’s destroyed home, they brought him a hot, home-cooked, meal, which was a first in many days of sleeping on a floor and making due with very little. One of many touching stories we have heard during this otherwise horrible event. Opu’s footage has been seen on CNN and NBC, and has been broadcasted worldwide.