Drones Help Hurricane Harvey Damaged Cities

CTEDD Associate Director and his research team stroke the attention of public media for uniquely using drones to survey the damaged areas of hurricane Harvey.

Both ABC and NBC local news covered Dr. Anand Puppala’s stunning and demanding research activities.

ABC coverage Available Here 

NBC Coverage Available Here

Source WFAA 8 ABC:

Cameras mounted to drones take thousands of pictures of debris, then use 3-D mapping to create a complex map showing height, width, and depth of the damage. Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington have dispatched a flying survey tool that could very soon save cities time and money after a natural disaster.

“We plan a flight plan where we can see — these are the way points through which the drone is going to navigate autonomously using the GPS satellites,” Surya Congress, the doctoral student behind the project, said.

A team from the UTA Research Institute used a drone mounted with a camera to gather thousands of pictures of debris left outside homes in Beaumont by Hurricane Harvey.

The pictures are combined using sophisticated 3-D mapping software to produce a complex map that shows height, width, and depth of the damage.

It’s all part of a $34,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

“By using some of the tools that we are developing, they should be able to get a good grip on what is the amount they need to clean up,” said Dr. Anand Puppala, an associate dean for research in UTA’s College of Engineering and a professor in the Civil Engineering Department. He’s also the principal investigator on the grant.

In the future, maps like this could be used to help a city decide where it sends resources and can even show damage to roadways down to the centimeter. Their flights in Beaumont were carefully executed by a Federal Aviation Administration licensed pilot and a second visual observer — but in the future they hope to have a fully autonomous system in place that could provide real-time, real-world mapping that could save precious resources for a city already spread thin.

“Right now the UAVs have tremendous potential. We are probably just scratching on the outer surface,” Puppala said.