Hurricane Alex

What a relief that Hurricane Alex was relatively minor, what I heard a resident on the news call “a normal one.” The two types of robots that fit these types of disasters are unmanned aerial vehicles and marine vehicles. A hurricane is a geographically distributed event- lots of homes demolished but commercial structures are evacuated and generally still standing. So rapid recon of large areas is important: UAVs help assess what areas are hurt, where people are gathering, and routes in and out of the area. National Guard Predators can get the broadest view and have been used since Hurricane Rita back in 2005 for strategic recon, while small UAVs can be used by tactical teams on demand (with an emergency COA). But don’t forget, most of the population and damage is near water (the whole being on the coast thing), and so littoral structural issues such as whether the bridges are damaged or debris is fixing to wash down and take out a piling become important for responder access, homeowner return to home and work, and to identify and speed up recovery. Unmanned marine vehicles, especially small robot boats, can be dropped in the water and get fantastic sonar images.

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