tornado response with

Drones and Augmented Reality

 

Drones and Augmented Reality

In May 2017, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University used drones equipped augmented reality software, SmartCam3D View by Rapid Imaging Software.  The students worked in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management to demonstrate the utility of drones following a disaster.   The images and video accompanying this article were captured in the aftermath of an EF2 tornado in Elk City Oklahoma in May 2017.

Small unmanned aircraft systems or drones are affordable and accessible communities of all sizes. A drone delivers the view available from a helicopter at a fraction of the cost.  Plus drones are agile, able to fly at low altitudes, offering detailed inspection of storm damage.  

Drones may be equipped with a variety of sensors including infrared cameras which can find a human without light. Many search and rescue missions occur after sundown and infrared sensors may save lives.

In the images below augmented reality map overlays shown on drone video captured at dusk and following tornado.

Street names are shown in the correct location day or night with SmartCam3D View.

Street names are shown in the correct location day or night with SmartCam3D View.

What is Augmented reality?

Augmented reality overlays such as street names and landmarks are blended in real time on the video and are visible to the drone camera operator.

The map overlays add location information which may be conveyed quickly to commanders.

For example, if a drone is flying over a street that is blocked or destroyed the extent of the damage is obvious with AR affected street name is shown in the video.  The location information may be relayed immediately to incident commanders.  Armed with this knowledge, the commanders dispatch assistance and resources via the most direct route to those in need.

Notes by the drone pilot may be added to the video as AR over lays. Damage classifications are shown above.

Notes by the drone pilot may be added to the video as AR over lays. Damage classifications are shown above.

how to use AR

Drones with AR improve relief efforts in other ways.  Pilots may add notes to homes which have been checked for survivors or add other information such as, downed power lines, pets or any information useful to incident managers.

In the video above, homes have been evaluated for livability. The designations show as flags on the video (designations are not official and for demonstration only). 

These examples are tornado specific however drones with AR are valuable in managing many disasters; floods, hurricanes, wild land fires, land slides and hazardous material spills.