Storm hit areas disturbs power, phone service to millions in U.S. Verizon tested a 200-pound unmanned aircraft with a 17-foot wingspan. It carries a “femtocell,” or small flying cell site designed to provide service to an area that has lost coverage.
Flying this cell site might be the very fastest way to deliver very badly needed service to first responders on the ground,” says Christopher Desmond, a principal engineer for Verizon’s network.
This test is the latest technology conducted with drones since 2016. The communications can mean life or death to residents of storm-hit areas. After Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico in the fall, around 90% of cell sites around the island were wiped out.
First responders are testing these unmanned remote-controlled aircraft during other disasters, using them to scan flooded buildings, oil and gas leaks and wildfires, and to assist in search and rescues.
It is acquiring 50 small drones to help during natural disasters, including mapping wildfires. It flew nearly 5,000 unmanned flights last year, and expects to fly 50% more this year as it responds to floods, fires and other emergencies.
Federal Aviation Administration chief Dan Elwell has called the integration of drones into our airspace a “national priority” that in the aftermath of recent hurricanes.
Amazon and package delivery companies such as UPS aims Progress in using drones in emergency situations contrasts with the stumbling start made by commercial drone delivery. There can be issues of privacy and safety concerns.