Hurricane Harvey is likely to be an incident that propelled drones and quadcopters to become an integral part of the government and corporate disaster-relieve efforts. The FAA issued more than 40 seperate authorizations for emergency drone activities above the flood-ravaged Houston and surrounding area in the first six days.
That total climbed above 70 last Friday and topped 100 by Sunday, including some flights prohibited under routine circumstances, according to people familiar with the details. Industry officials said all of the operations—except for a handful flown by media outlets—were conducted in conjunction with, or on behalf of, local, state or federal agencies.
Before the devastation throughout southern Texas, lawmakers and trade groups representing drone manufacturers specifically urged the FAA to adopt policies providing swift regulatory exemptions in the event of emergency applications.
Since the FAA began clearing the way for unmanned aircraft around Houston, people familiar with the details said at least one company has received the green light to survey coastal damage using drones operating beyond the sight of ground-based pilots. Such flying techniques are strictly banned under normal rules governing commercial operations.
But as the hurricane dumped historic amounts of rain, lingered over Texas and Louisiana and the extent of recovery needs grew, agency officials accelerated case-by-case approvals to drone operators for storm-related flights. That occurred while the FAA continued to receive numerous new requests from drone users.
Drones are really great search and rescue options during times of emergency, especially no human lives would be harmed.
Image via The Wall Street Journal