Natural Disasters


Natural disasters and drones have become a very popular topic. Most recently there was an earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia. The deployment of drones in this disaster feature in international headlines. Nearly every week another natural disaster somewhere in the world makes another headline. Natural disasters seem to occur particularly on the Pacific Rim’s geologically active “Ring of Fire”. Estimates of 2018 costs of natural disasters amount to $155billion.

As we speak more are recorded and more are projected. Climate change is blamed for much of this. Disaster relief efforts worldwide are making use of drones. This especially true in regions lacking advanced infrastructure.

1IndonesiaEarthquake and Tsunami
7PakistanHeat Wave
8North KoreaFloods
9Papua New GuineaEarthquake
USE CASES for Drones and Natural Disasters


Firefighters sustain many deaths and injuries while combating volatile fires. Because aircraft must fly at low altitudes to fight wildfires, pilots and crews are put in serious danger. They are made to endure high temperatures, low visibility, dangerous winds and high stress.

With drones one can eliminate the risks that pilots face and increase the effectiveness of battling fires including flying in low visibility and dropping fire retardants more accurately and safely. Deploying drones provides greater situational awareness. Outfitted with communication systems, they add the benefit of sustaining contact between the command center and firefighters on the ground.

Large amounts of data were collected with drones that allowed firefighters to pinpoint areas of quickly progressing fire.


In the 2017 hurricane season, a response team used drones to assess flood damage, and therefor able to predict areas of future flood risk.


During the 2017 earthquake in Mexico City, teams used drones to create a map of hard-hit districts, and individual maps of specific buildings that had sustained major damage. The teams then made the maps available to city planners and architects who used these in reconstruction efforts.


The uses and usefulness of drones is limited only by the imagination. Here are a number features of drones that make them ideal tools for vario7 types of natural disaster response efforts.

Thermal imaging:

Because of thermal imaging systems SAR teams can easily find victims during night-time searches, or in areas of dense foliage, or in the case of victims trapped in rubble. With these cameras operators easily spot humans due to their body heat, and the built-in GPS systems which standard on most drones can result in pinpointing the exact location of victims.


One basic add-on that is immensely useful in search and rescue operations is a simple spotlight. For night-time rescue efforts, a light attached to a drone, in tandem with live video streaming, enables practical and straightforward searching of large areas in a short space of time.

Zoom cameras:

Drone cameras zoom in and accurately perform facial identification. This capability easily identifies a specific individuals in a crowd (or amidst rubble or other background distractions).

Payload drop systems:

Floods, damaged roads, and building rubble often obstruct emergency responders getting urgent supplies t0 trapped or injured people. Drones however, easily rise above these obstacles, carrying significant payloads, and dropping them where they are needed.

WiFi/cell hotspots:

Communication often becomes an issue when significant infrastructure damage has occurred as a result of an earthquake or hurricane. With the various communications options, drones are able to create temporary WiFi or cell hotspots. Drones meet the urgent communication needs. This way help to reach the places where its needs are highest.


3D imaging/mapping

Making use of data gathered by almost any standard off-the-shelf drone to produce high-quality 3D images and maps. In disaster-stricken areas, these maps can be effective in locating and assessing structural damage to buildings and other infrastructure elements. This information is effectively used in search and rescue efforts, as well as in beginning the major effort of reconstruction.

Clear value

When dealing with climatic, environmental, or industrial emergencies, time is of the essence. In a disorganized environment, it is vital to have access to reliable information, in order to respond in an appropriately and timely.

Drones and natural disasters are a perfect combination because of the flexibility for image production and prompt delivery around the world with prompt analysis services. Drones are the perfect complement to satellite imagery because they provide responsiveness, the ability to observe in cloudy weather and high resolution.

Clearly drones and natural disasters are a natural combination because they form a perfect illustration of how drones have come to extend the range and reach of humans, effectively, and safely. As a result, many dramatic rescues of, both humans and animals, have drones to thank for their lives.

It has become natural for rescue efforts to pursue the deployment of drones upfront when time is of the essence and lives are at stake. Drones effectively deploys the wide variety of enabling features described earlier in drones and natural disasters.