The University of Maryland is flying ahead as a leader in drone testing projects for emergency services.
Last month, UM’s UAS Test Site team partnered with nearby Charles County Emergency Medical Services to test a cloud-based drone operation platform called ANRA.
According to a UM press release, ANRA “allows real time flight management, flight tracking, planning, and sensor data management and dissemination enabling multiple UAS operators to plan and remotely share video, pictures, and tracks.”
A higher level of aerial emergency management can help firefighters, police and rescuers save more lives and property. The mutual exercise simulated a water rescue in which multi-rotor drones dropped self-inflating life preservers into a sound. In another test, a UAV equipped with radiation-detecting sensors monitored radiation levels at a simulated nuclear power plant.
UM is also helping out drone startups through its Center for Advanced Transportation Technology Laboratory. The CATT lab awarded VR equipment to Astral AR, a firm that builds “augmented-reality, biometrics piloted” drones.
The grant will be used to develop Charlie, a family of fire-fighting drones. Sporting thermal and hyperspectral sensors, Charlie I can detect heat and infrared light in urban fires and, according to an Astral press release, “calculate trajectory of falling debris, provide ongoing ‘educated guess’ computer analysis of chemical composition and air quality.” This kind of vital data allows emergency workers to locate people in a burning building and evaluate the severity of a blaze.
Charlie II is designed to tackle wildfires in rural or wilderness areas. Unlike the first Charlie, the quadcopter is meant to operate in a fleet to share information and engage in specific tasks such as locating people caught behind a fire line. “Both our Charlies are capable of situational awareness, real-time 3D holographic visualizations for group viewing and “shared reality’ for cooperative piloting,” a company release adds.
UM’s partnerships are yet another example of drone players collaborating with safety agencies worldwide. In April, DJI and the European Emergency Number Association announced a partnership to select European drone pilot teams to train with Phantom and Inspire drones to optimize emergency response.
In addition, EENA pilots will also learn how to deploy DJI’s Matrice 100 quadcopter, which is specifically designed to work with developers testing new hardware and software solutions for drones.