Concepts and applications for integrating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's) in disaster management

  • Naser, M.Z. (Glenn Department of Civil Engineering, Clemson University) ;
  • Kodur, V.K. (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Michigan State University)
  • Received : 2019.06.14
  • Accepted : 2019.07.01
  • Published : 2020.01.25


Over the past few decades, the impact of natural, manmade and natech (natural hazard triggering technological disasters) disasters has been devastating, affecting over 4.4 billion people. In spite of recent technological advances, the increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters and the escalation of manmade threats is presenting a number of challenges that warrant immediate attention. This paper explores the integration of drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's) into infrastructure monitoring and post-disaster assessment. Through reviewing some of the recent disasters, effectiveness of utilizing UAV's in different stages of disaster life cycle is demonstrated and needed steps for successful integration of UAV's in infrastructure monitoring, hazard mitigation and post-incident assessment applications are discussed. In addition, some of the challenges associated with implementing UAV's in disaster monitoring, together with research needs to overcome associated knowledge gaps, is presented.


Supported by : Michigan State University


  1. Arain, F. and Moeini, S. (2016), "Leveraging on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for effective emergency response and disaster management", Proceedings of the Project Management Symposium at U of MD College Park Maryland, Maryland, USA, May.
  2. Casagli, N., Frodella, W., Morelli, S., Tofani, V., Ciampalini, A., Intrieri, E., Raspini, F., Rossi, G., Tanteri, L. and Lu, P. (2017), "Spaceborne, UAV and ground-based remote sensing techniques for landslide mapping, monitoring and early warning", Geoenvironmental Disasters, 4(1), 9.
  3. Casbeer, D., Beard, R., McLain, T.W., Li, S.M. and Mehra, R.K. (2005), "Forest fire monitoring with multiple small UAVs", Proceedings of the 2005, American Control Conference, Portland, Oregon, USA, June.
  4. Chiaro, G., Kiyota, T., Pokhrel, R.M., Goda, K., Katagiri, T. and Sharma, K. (2015), "Reconnaissance report on geotechnical and structural damage caused by the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake, Nepal", Soils Foundations, 55(5), 1030-1043.
  5. Chuvieco, E. and Martin, M.P. (1994), "Global fire mapping and fire danger estimation using AVHRR images", Photogrammetric Eng. Remote Sensing, 60(5), 563-570.
  6. DeGarmo, M. (2004), Issues Concerning Integration of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Civil Airspace, Center for Advanced Aviation System Development, Mitre Corporation, Virginia, USA.
  7. DesRoches, R., Comerio, M., Eberhard, M., Mooney, W. and Rix, G. J. (2011), "Overview of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake", Earthquake Spectra, 27(S1), S1-S21.
  8. Doherty, P. and Rudol, P. (2007), "A UAV Search and Rescue Scenario with Human Body Detection and Geolocalization", AI 2007: Advances in Artificial Intelligence, Springer, Berlin, Germany.
  9. Erdelj, M. and Natalizio, E. (2016), "UAV-assisted disaster management: Applications and open issues", 2016 International Conference on Computing, Networking and Communications (ICNC), IEEE, New Jersey, USA.
  10. Fahrney, D. (1980), "The Birth of guided missiles", United States Naval Institute Proceedings, Maryland, USA.
  11. Fahy, R., LeBlanc, P. and Molis, J. (2016), Firefighter Fatalities in the United States, National Fire Protection Association, MA, USA.
  12. FEMA (1980), Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Public Law 93-288) as amended, and Related Authorities as of August 2016; FEMA, Washington, D.C., USA.
  13. Gencer, E.A. (2013), "Natural disasters, urban Vulnerability and Risk Management: A Theoretical Overview", The Interplay between Urban Development, Vulnerability, and Risk Management, 7-43.
  14. Goodrich, M.A., Morse, B.S., Gerhardt, D., Cooper, J.L., Quigley, M., Adams, J.A. and Humphrey, C. (2008), "Supporting wilderness search and rescue using a camera-equipped mini UAV", J. Field Robotics, 25(1-2), 89-110.
  15. Haddon, D.R. and Whittaker, C.J. (2015), "Aircraft airworthiness certification standards for civil UAVs", Aeronautic. J., 107(1068), 79-86.
  16. Harris, R. (2017), Why Typhoon Haiyan Caused So Much Damage, National Public Radio, Washington, D.C., USA.
  17. Jibiki, Y., Kure, S., Kuri, M. and Ono, Y. (2016), "Analysis of early warning systems: The case of super-typhoon Haiyan", International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2015.12.002
  18. Karp, J. and Pasztor, A. (2006), "Drones in Domestic Skies? They're in Demand for Rescue and Surveillance Missions, But Critics Question Safety", Wall Street Journal, August.
  19. Kim, K. and Davidson, J. (2015), "Unmanned Aircraft Systems Used for Disaster Management", Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2532(1), 83-90.
  20. King, D. W., Bertapelle, A. and Moses, C. (2005), UAV Failure Rate Criteria for Equivalent Level of Safety.
  21. Lattanzi, D. and Miller, G. (2017), "Review of robotic infrastructure inspection systems", J. Infrastructure Syst., 23(3), 04017004.
  22. Matese, A., Toscano, P., Gennaro, S. Di, Sensing, L. G.-R. and 2015, U. (2015), "Intercomparison of UAV, aircraft and satellite remote sensing platforms for precision viticulture", Remote Sensing.
  23. Montambault, S., Beaudry, J., Toussaint, K. and Pouliot, N. (2010), "On the application of VTOL UAVs to the inspection of power utility assets", 2010 1st International Conference on Applied Robotics for the Power Industry (CARPI 2010), 1-7, IEEE, USA.
  24. Moore, J. (2011), "UAV Fire-fighting System", US20130134254A1.
  25. NASA (2017), Dryden Fact Sheet; NASA, Washington, D.C., USA.
  26. Nedjati, A., Vizvari, B. and Izbirak, G. (2016), "Post-earthquake response by small UAV helicopters", Natural Hazards, 80(3), 1669-1688.
  27. NOAA (2017), U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters; National Centers for Environmental Information, USA.
  28. Pearson, L. (1963), "Developing the flying bomb. Naval Aviation News", Naval Aviation News, 49, 22-25.
  29. Pollanen, R., Toivonen, H., Perajarvi, K., Karhunen, T., Ilander, T., Lehtinen, J., Rintala, K., Katajainen, T., Niemela, J. and Juusela, M. (2009), "Radiation surveillance using an unmanned aerial vehicle", Appl. Radiation Isotopes, 67(2), 340-344. Pergamon.
  30. Price, D. (2016), "Unmanned aircraft systems for emergency management: A guide for policy makers and practitioners", Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States, California, USA
  31. Reich, L. (2017), How Drones are being used in Disaster Management?", Geoawesomeness.
  32. Riley, C. (2017), "Natural disasters caused $175 billion in damage in 2016", CNN, Atlanta, USA.
  33. Roberts, M. (2017), "5 drone technologies for firefighting", Fire Chief.,
  34. Sa, A.C., Benali, A., Fernandes, P.M., Pinto, R.M., Trigo, R.M., Salis, M., Russo, A., Jerez, S., Soares, P.M., Schroeder, W. and Pereira, J.M (2017), "Evaluating fire growth simulations using satellite active fire data", Remote Sensing Environ., 190, 302-317.
  35. Saxena, V. (2013), The Amazing Growth and Journey of UAV's and Ballastic Missile Defence Capabilities: Where the Technology is Leading to? Vij Books, New Delhi, India.
  36. Sloggett, D. (2015), Drone Warfare: The Development of Unmanned Aerial Conflict, Simon and Schuster, New York, USA.
  37. Spranger, M., Heinke, F., Becker, S. and Labudde, D. (2016), "Towards drone-assisted large-scale disaster response and recovery", The First International Conference on Advances in Computation, Communications and Services (ACCSE 2016),
  38. Taylor, J. and Munson, K. (1977), Jane's Pocket Book of Remotely Piloted Vehicles: Robot Aircraft Today. Collier Books, New York, USA.
  39. Tompkins, A. (2017), Networks Use Drones to Cover Nepal Quake. Poynter, May.
  40. Trometer, S. (2016), BMBF-Projekt DETORBA: Explosionsschutz im Stadtgebiet, Staatliche Krisenund Notfallvorsorge, BBK, Germany.
  41. UN (2012), "Fast facts United Nations Development Programme, Disaster risk reduction and recovery", UNDP, New York, USA.
  42. U.S. Department of Defense (2015), "Policy Memorandum 15-002, 'Guidance for the Domestic Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems'", United States Department of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense, USA.
  43. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, (2013), National Mitigation Framework, the Department of Homeland Security, USA.
  44. Watts, A.C., Ambrosia, V.G. and Hinkley, E.A. (2012), "Unmanned aircraft systems in remote sensing and scientific research: Classification and considerations of use", Remote Sensing, 4(6), 1671-1692.