Drones to provide early warning for natural disasters

Date:6 February 2020 Author: Kyro Mitchell Tags:,

Modern-day drones are a far cry from their early predecessors. Initially, they were used as a fun recreational pastime, much like RC cars or model airplanes. Now, drones have evolved to the point to where they can be used to deliver life-saving medicine, track down criminals, and in the case of Wuhan China, be used to identify individuals not wearing facemasks. The next evolution in the world of drones is using them to identify and provide an early warning for natural disasters.

This is according to a researcher from Queen’s University Belfast, who has invented a low-cost telecommunications system using drones to provide early warnings for imminent natural disasters. Along with identifying natural disasters, the system of drones can also form a WiFi hotspot to keep people online when conventional infrastructures inevitably fall apart in the event of an earthquake, tsunami or hurricane.

The challenge researchers faced wasn’t figuring out a way to have drone-to-drone communication, instead, it came from finding a way to manage battery life, as regular consumer drones struggle to stay airborne for more than an hour. Researchers  came up with a smarter way to allocate battery resources, allowing the drones to stay airborne three to five times longer than regular drones.

Along with better battery life, the drones should be relatively inexpensive when compared to other consumer drones. They will also act as a more resilient warning system compared to conventional warning systems. In the case of a flood, for example, river monitoring stations often collapse in on themselves, the drones would be able to fly high above the danger area and relay important information to those on the ground.

The system has proved to work so well that Vietnam’s Disaster Management Authority has picked the drone network to help monitor extreme weather and get in touch with emergency services when a natural disaster strikes. Whether any other countries will also adopt the system is yet to be seen. The US Interior Department had recently grounded all of its Chinese made drones amidst security fears.

Image: Pixabay

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