Drones to Uncover Causes of Florida Building Collapse

Drones to Uncover Causes of Florida Building Collapse

Photo illus. drone by Pixabay

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A team of Florida State University (FSU) drone experts has been working at the site of the collapsed building in Surfside for already three weeks using drone technology, first to assist in the possible location of units and survivors, and now taking images that track the post-demolition process.

The team has been playing a critical role by capturing more than 35,000 images it hopes will help incident commanders and NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) determine the causes of the collapse.

The specialized unmanned aircraft systems team was deployed by the state’s Urban Search and Rescue Task Force one day after the horrific collapse of the 12-story tower.

Initially the mapping information was supporting the state Urban Search and Rescue Task Force’s efforts on where people could be located and the conditions on the ground. “Now, we’re continuing that work, but it is also going toward the investigation into why the building collapsed,” said David Merrick, director of the FSU Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program and the Center for Disaster Risk Policy. “The drone flies, takes a series of images and then we stitch those together into a map very similar to what you would see on Google Map or Google Earth.

Other calls of service have been for wildfires, floods and even a volcano in Hawaii in 2018, but this is its first test at a structural collapse. The images the team uses to create digital maps can be downloaded to phones or tablets used by FEMA teams. 

The technology gives response teams the advantage of using real-time data and images.