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Canadian drone company mapping Irma’s destruction

Canadian drone company mapping Irma’s destruction 

GlobalMedic, a Canadian charitable organization that provides emergency relief to communities affected by natural disasters and complex emergencies, has called on AeroVision Canada of Beechville, N.S. to use its unmanned aerial vehicles (AUVs) to help in assessing the damage caused by Hurricane Irma in the dual-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda. The two islands were among the hardest hit by the hurricane.

“The government doesn’t really know right now how extensive the damage is, so we’re going to be the eye in the sky for them,” said Jean Racine, chief operating officer of AeroVision, said in an interview with the Chronicle Herald this week.

The said Aerovision will be doing some 3D mapping and modelling of the disaster areas and inspect the erosion in coastal areas.

At the height of the storm, winds travelling close to 300 KPH hit the islands and laid waste to 95 per cent of the structures. Water and phone services are down and about 1,800 people are left homeless.

The cost of rebuilding has been estimated at around US$365 million. But first, authorities and aid organizations need to know which areas need immediate assistance and which ones need them the most. Also critical is information on the condition of terrain which will help aid plan their efforts and navigate to the disaster areas.

Racine and Travis Harvey, another drone pilot, will leave for Antigua and Barbuda next week with relief workers from GlobalMedic.

The AeoVision team will be taking with them an Inspire 2 quadcopter drone built by Hong Kong drone company DJI, and an Elios drone made by Swiss drone company Flyability.

The Inspire 2 is based off the Inspire 1 drone which was used primarily for filmmaking. The older drone had an HD video transmission system, 360°rotating gimbal, and a 4K camera. The Inspire 2 has everything its predecessor and improves upon it. It has a new image processing system records at up to 5.2K in CinemaDNG RAW, Apple ProRes. It goes from 0 to 80kph in five seconds and hits maximum speed at 94kph. A dual battery system prolongs the flight time to a maximum of 27 minutes (with an X4S), while self-heating technology allows it to fly even in low temperatures.

The Elio drone is described by its maker as “the first collision-tolerant drone.” The AUV is protected by a cage-like dome that acts like a bumper, protecting the machine from an impact. The Elios is designed for inspection and exploration of inaccessible or cluttered areas such as factory and building interiors or even caves. It is capable of simultaneous full-HD and thermal imagery recording.

While rescue is not part of AeoVision’s mission, the Elios’ thermal camera can be used to detect heat signatures of both humans and animals that may be trapped in the rubble.

The humanitarian mission will be shared by GlobalMedic and AeroVision.

This is not AeroVision’s first humanitarian mission. In May 2016, the company helped Ecuador gather information on the extent the damage caused by landslides and collapsed buildings due to a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that hit the country.


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