Unmanned planes look for Katrina survivors

September 15, 2005

Unmanned, small aircraft were being used this week to search for survivors of Hurricane Katrina in the first domestic use of such surveillance vehicles.

Providing speed, portability and access, two unmanned aerial vehicles surveyed storm-damaged communities in Mississippi searching for trapped survivors.

"The two UAVs packed a one-two punch," said Robin Murphy of the University of South Florida and director of the National Science Foundation-supported Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue. "The fixed-wing provided a quick overview of an area over several miles, but the use of the miniature helicopter to hover by buildings and on roofs -- and to takeoff straight up -- really offers new functionality."

One of the UAVs is a 4-foot-long airplane with mounted video and thermal imagery cameras that can capture details from as far away as 1,000 feet.

The other UAV used in the search is a camera-equipped, miniature, electric helicopter that can hover at heights approaching 250 feet and zoom its camera to peer inside windows or scan distant rooftops.

Within two hours, the vehicles reportedly provided responders with information indicating no survivors were trapped and cresting floodwaters did not pose an additional threat.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Lunar IceCube to take on big mission from small package

Related Stories

A new, flying jellyfish-like machine (w/ Video)

November 24, 2013

Up, up in the sky: It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a... jellyfish? That's what researchers have built—a small vehicle whose flying motion resembles the movements of those boneless, pulsating, water-dwelling creatures.

3D printer-built robot has insect moves (w/ Video)

August 3, 2013

(Phys.org) —Some robotics experts focused on biomimicry have turned to work in tech hives where their tiny robots are designed to imitate the moves of insects. At UC Berkleley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab, David Zarrouk, ...

Recommended for you

New Horizons team selects potential Kuiper Belt flyby target

August 29, 2015

NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits ...

Seeing quantum motion

August 28, 2015

Consider the pendulum of a grandfather clock. If you forget to wind it, you will eventually find the pendulum at rest, unmoving. However, this simple observation is only valid at the level of classical physics—the laws ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.