Falcon UAV Gets a Sour Taste of FEMA Bureaucracy
September 17, 2013 7:40 PM
comment(s) - last by
Feds make sure no good deed goes unpunished
To say the
U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency
is oft maligned
may be a bit of an understatement. But agency certainly at times goes out of the way to earn its reputation.
For example during the recent floods in Boulder, Colo. last week, FEMA terminated under threat of arrest a local company's efforts to provide real-time maps of the flood damage with no explanation.
CLMax Engineering LLC looked to chip in to the release effort with its Falcon UAV. Now normally this might sound like a pretty bad idea, but Falcon UAVs are not only
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) approved (aka federally approved to fly in the U.S.), they also are experts in using their onboard GPS and cameras to create 3D maps to produce real-time maps of a disaster-stricken region in a mere half hour.
According to a company blog, CLMax looked to offer the use of the fliers -- for free -- to the
Boulder County Emergency Operations Center
(EOC) and the Incident Management Team (IMT) to help coordinate assessment and rescue efforts. CLMax expected this to make for some good PR.
A Falcon UAV is launched on Thursday [Image Source: CLMax Engineering]
Indeed, for the first three days the fliers chipped in. On Thursday the weather was so bad that the U.S. National Guard was ground, and only Falcon UAV was able to brave the pounding storm. CLMax worked closely with the EOC, who in turn fed in instructions to prevent its flier from hindering National Guard efforts; for example on Friday the Falcon UAVs were temporarily ground while National Guard choppers made rescue efforts.
One of the maps produced by the Falcon flier -- before it was cut off by FEMA.
[Image Source: CLMax Engineering]
But despite after three days of great success, things took a bizarre turn. CLMax recalls:
Early Saturday morning Falcon UAV was heading up to Lyons to complete a damage assessment mapping flight when we received a call from our Boulder EOC point of contact who notified us that FEMA had taken over operations and our request to fly drones was not only denied but more specifically we were told by FEMA that anyone flying drones would be arrested. Not being one to bow to federal bureaucrats we still went up to Lyons to do a site survey for how we can conduct a mission in the near future to provide an adequate damage assessment to this storm raveged community.
While we were up there we noticed that Civil Air Patrol and private aircraft were authorized to fly over the small town tucked into the base of Rockies. Unfortunately due to the high terrain around Lyons and large turn radius of manned aircraft they were flying well out of a useful visual range and didn't employ cameras or live video feed to support the recovery effort. Meanwhile we were grounded on the Lyons high school football field with two Falcons that could have mapped the entire town in less than 30 minutes with another few hours to process the data providing a near real time map of the entire town.
Again, to clarify a couple points:
CLMax was perfectly willing to ground its fliers as long as necessary while FEMA and/or National Guard craft were in the air
CLMax was charging the government nothing for this free service
CLMax had completed three days of successful support efforts with no incidents
FEMA's response seems nothing short of boneheaded and baffling. Moreover why FEMA felt it necessary to threaten to arrest engineers from a reputable federal contractor who provides disaster relief UAVs is unfathomable.
FEMA has offered no comment yet explaining why it would make this bizarre decision. It's a particularly disappointing outcome as drones get a bad rap due to the kinds of operations that citizens fear the government is doing --
armed attacks on "terrorists"
, etc. -- yet here is a company that wants to
put drones to a nobler use
, yet it can't because of bumbling, mess of an agency.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: Remember the Joker...
9/18/2013 11:38:21 AM
You do realize that Predators and Reapers have 2 cameras right? One is the payload camera that is used to look at the ground, and the other is in the nose, used by the pilot to avoid anything in the air.
“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
Secret DOJ Memo Suggests Drone Strikes May be Necessary to Kill American "Terrorists"
February 5, 2013, 1:55 PM
FEMA Phone System Hacked
August 22, 2008, 9:20 AM
NASA Remotely Piloted Plane Helps Battle California Wildfires
October 27, 2007, 8:40 PM
Mini Insect Robocops: Engineers, Government Work on RC Insects
October 9, 2007, 10:02 AM
Creationists are Mad About Google Doodle Depicting Evolution
November 24, 2015, 8:48 PM
DHS and TSA: Whoops, We Missed That 73 Airport Employees May be Terrorists
November 19, 2015, 2:16 PM
Star Wars Spinoff Film "Rogue One", Theme Park Attractions Announced
August 17, 2015, 12:20 PM
SpaceX Falcon 9's Seventh Supply Mission to ISS Ends w/ Fiery Stage 1 Explosion
June 28, 2015, 1:10 PM
Cool Science Video: Glowing Millipede Prowls the Nevada Desert
May 18, 2015, 12:00 PM
Newly Discovered Costa Rican Glass Frog is Kermit's Doppelgänger
April 22, 2015, 11:26 AM
Most Popular Articles
Free Windows 10 offer ends July 29th, 2016: 10 Reasons to Upgrade Immediately
July 22, 2016, 9:19 PM
Smart Security Cameras: 5 Good Choices For Any Budget
July 25, 2016, 7:13 PM
Top 5 Smart Watches
July 21, 2016, 11:48 PM
2017 Porsche Panamera: I’ll Take Three of These.
July 24, 2016, 6:44 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information