Embry-Riddle students use UAS Disaster Study Away trip to help recovery efforts in Oklahoma



In support of the Oklahoma Emergency Management and Dept. of Wildlife Conservation’s efforts to survey the aftermath of large rangeland fires that spread across hundreds of thousands of acres in Oklahoma back in April, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach students embarked on a UAS Disaster Study Away trip in May.

Led by Embry-Riddle Professors Dan Macchiarella and John Robbins, the Embry–Riddle UAS Disaster Response Team started their trip in Arlington, Texas, where they underwent Predator/Reaper UAS orientation flight training.

Following that, they went to the State Emergency Operation Center in Oklahoma City, where they received an initial briefing, and prepared to help with response and recovery efforts resulting from various severe weather events.

In collaboration with the Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, the team surveyed the "Rhea" and "34 Complex" fires that took place in April, and helped ranch owners start the process of developing recovery plans. 

Using the senseFly eBee and DJI Inspire 1 UAS, students collected and shared still and full motion imagery. They also obtained a deeper understanding of the operational requirements and coordination associated with UAS in support of disaster relief operations.

“The students were able to learn UAS application principles in both academic and real world settings during the study away,” Macchiarella says. “They truly developed into a cohesive team.”

The Disaster Response Team also met and flew with Oklahoma State University (OSU) faculty and students at the OSU Unmanned Aircraft Flight Station. Additionally, they also traveled to a number of sites in Oklahoma to provide public safety organizations with demonstrations and professional education.

​Video footage of the Embry–Riddle UAS Disaster Response Team in action can be seen below: