The Red Cross will for the first time use a drones to assess damage and deliver aid to flood-hit areas in Houston after Hurricane Harvey over the past two weeks, the US Red Cross said on Thursday.
The Red Cross is expected to be the largest US non-profit aid organization using the technology when flights begin next week as part of a post-disaster training program in other parts of the United States.
The Red Cross will deploy one unmanned aircraft and test for a week in a Houston area badly hit by Hurricane Harvey flooding, which hit land on Aug. 25 and was the strongest cyclone to hit Texas in more than 50 years. The hurricane killed an estimated 50 people and caused damage of about $ 180 billion.
Harvey was the second major hurricane to hit the United States since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) relaxed restrictions on the use of the aircraft in June to allow for wider use in photography, enterprise inspections and other business activities.
The Red Cross program uses a Saify Works aircraft in Denver, Massachusetts. Glenn Zacara, a spokesman for United Parcel Service, said the program was funded by a charity owned by the company that owns a stake in SafeWorks and used its drones to test packages.
Zacara added that the pictures taken by the Red Cross will contribute to the assessment of damage and the delivery of aid and that the images can be shared with other organizations.
The aircraft, which is connected to an energy source, can fly at a height of up to 400 feet to record images of houses a mile away