Among the drone owners involved in recovery efforts are the members of SWARM (Search With Aerial RC Multirotor), a volunteer group of UAV pilots focused on search and rescue, who sent volunteer crews to both Texas and Florida. Founded by California artist and UAV pilot Jim Bowers (whose alter ego is Demunseed on YouTube), SWARM is working under an emergency COA (Certificate of Authorization) to fly what the Red Cross calls Neighborhood Damage Assessments. A COA allows drone flights at locations, times and altitudes that aren’t normally permitted. Though SWARM had not deployed before the storms, the group quickly dispatched its members to Florida as Hurricane Irma departed the area.
Capo, a golden retriever wearing a bright orange rescue harness, runs with his handler in tow towards a body sprawled in the high grass as a giant drone whirrs overhead.
The scene was part of a simulated dog rescue operation this week aimed at highlighting the rapidly growing use of drones to help speed up and expand such searches in Switzerland.
The exercise took place on Wednesday, the same day as a massive landslide on the Piz Cengalo mountain in the Swiss Alps that left eight people missing and triggered a search-and-rescue mission where dogs and drones were deployed.
“The main benefit is to gain more time, to be more efficient and to be faster to find the missing person,”
Over the past 11 months, the Icelandic Met Office has twice raised its Katla Volcano alert level to yellow, signaling “elevated unrest.”
For four days this summer, Icelanders watched with concern as a series of strengthening earthquakes peaked at magnitude 3. Natural reservoirs of glacial melt under the ice cap burst and flooded the Mulakvisl River near Vik. There are also risks from ash, lava and poisonous gases spewing out of the volcano.
The country’s emergency text message system has tested well. For areas with weak phone signals, the plan is to search for travelers with drones.
On Wednesday afternoon at around 4:15 p.m., Surf City police officers stopped 20-year-old Zachary Kingsbury. Police spotted contraband in Kingsbury’s vehicle and asked the young man, who hails from Linwood, Washington, to step out of his vehicle. Shortly after police began interviewing him, Kingsburgy took off on foot, heading towards the beach.
As Surf City Police watched, Kingsbury continued running into the ocean and began swimming away from shore. Police deployed a drone and were able to track Kingsbury for some time.
A shark can clearly be seen following Kingsbury through the water.