Greg Walker at University of Alaska Fairbanks- a great guy and UAV expert who was scheduled to go with to Minamisanriku last October- is in WIRED for using an Aeryon Scout UAV for chemical plant inspection. Preventing disasters count as much as responding to them! Kudos!
We’ve had members of the Police Technology Unit of the Austin Police Department over to Disaster City twice to see our Dragan and AirRobot UAVs and our Packbot 510 and SUGV. SPO Eric Cortez and his colleagues have been terrific in helping us learn more about how they would use these devices, what they look for in a disaster (which the new Dr. Josh Peschel worked on for his PhD), and how fire rescue and police might share and coordinate. Here’s the link to the Austin Fox Channel video– one embarrassing aspect: Disaster City is a Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) facility not the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue.
It’s a delight to see that the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) have agreed to formalize the informal collaboration on disaster research. Although the thrust of the agreement is on BIGDATA, disasters are in there! Check out http://www.cccblog.org/2012/06/08/u-s-japan-collaboration-on-big-data-and-disaster-research/ for more info.