ISPRS Annals of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume III-8
07 Jun 2016
 | 07 Jun 2016


Tullio Joseph Tanzi, Madhu Chandra, Jean Isnard, Daniel Camara, Olivier Sebastien, and Fanilo Harivelo

Keywords: Humanitarian, Autonomy, UAV, Communications

Abstract. Information plays a key role in crisis management and relief efforts for natural disaster scenarios. Given their flight properties, UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) provide new and interesting perspectives on the data gathering for disaster management. A new generation of UAVs may help to improve situational awareness and information assessment. Among the advantages UAVs may bring to the disaster management field, we can highlight the gain in terms of time and human resources, as they can free rescue teams from time-consuming data collection tasks and assist research operations with more insightful and precise guidance thanks to advanced sensing capabilities. However, in order to be useful, UAVs need to overcome two main challenges. The first one is to achieve a sufficient autonomy level, both in terms of navigation and interpretation of the data sensed. The second major challenge relates to the reliability of the UAV, with respect to accidental (safety) or malicious (security) risks.

This paper first discusses the potential of UAV in assisting in different humanitarian relief scenarios, as well as possible issues in such situations. Based on recent experiments, we discuss the inherent advantages of autonomous flight operations, both lone flights and formation flights. The question of autonomy is then addressed and a secure embedded architecture and its specific hardware capabilities is sketched out.

We finally present a typical use case based on the new detection and observation abilities that UAVs can bring to rescue teams. Although this approach still has limits that have to be addressed, technically speaking as well as operationally speaking, it seems to be a very promising one to enhance disaster management efforts activities.