Hurricane Michael made landfall today as a Category 4 storm with up to 150 miles per hour winds. It’s being called the third-strongest storm to ever hit the U.S. To help alleviate the after-effects of this weather monster, the team behind Atlanta-based drone company Airbus Aerial is working around-the-clock with FEMA and other disaster organizations to evaluate the damage during and after the storm.
Airbus Aerial, a division of France-based commercial aircraft manufacturer Airbus, provides actionable observational data from above using satellites and drones. “We’re looking at what satellite data coverage we have of the Florida Panhandle area from before the storm and we’ve got lots of data from as recent as a month or two back,” CEO Jesse Kallman shares with Hypepotamus from their Ponce City Market ‘War Room.’
“We’re queuing that up for insurance customers that need that baseline information for what was there before the storm and the conditions of certain things before the storm.”
Airbus Aerial has served utility workers, engineers, first responders and others for the past year by using a combination of drones, camera-enabled manned planes and observation satellites to provide real-time information, delivered through their cloud-based interface.
To deal with Michael, the team is currently setting up to gather high-resolution, cloud-free images over the next few days, along with satellite tasking plans. Beyond satellite imaging, the team has their drone and manned aircraft pilots in position so they’re ready to go as soon as the storm clears.
“As soon as the storm clears out tomorrow, we can start flying immediately for FEMA, for insurance companies, and for utility companies. Those are our primary customers. We’ll be flying drones to inspect certain key infrastructures like dams, roads and bridges,” says Kallman.
The satellite imaging will provide a broad overview of the impacted area, from downed trees and power lines as well as hot spots of damage so relief organizations know where to focus their efforts on the ground.
The Airbus Aerial team hopes to work in conjunction with utility companies to send out drones ahead of them. They can conduct searches for downed power lines, major road blockages, or serious flooding that might pose a danger.
For insurance companies, Kallman shares that they can use satellite data to see if a house has been blown over, negating the need to actually send an in-person insurance adjuster.
“They’ll be able to go ahead to pay those claims instantly, so those customers can get their money and get back to rebuilding quicker.”
Images courtesy of Airbus Aerial