First responders and drone experts gathered in downtown Reno for the first ever symposium on using drones in search and rescue. Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray was there.
Using unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, in search and rescue is fairly new in the United States.
Warren Rapp is with Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center, which is hosting the three-day event. Rapp says the potential for using drones in emergencies hasn’t yet been fully realized.
“Because there are a lot of factors that have been inhibiting this,” Rapp says.
Rapp says one barrier is a current lack of research on drone capabilities. Another obstacle is the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules regulating drones, requiring emergency responders to get a Certificate of Authorization (COA).
“And those certificates basically say that in these different areas, in the event that there is a disaster, or a need to use UAV, they are allowed by the FAA,” Rapp says.
Washoe County, according to Rapp, has five certificates approving the use of drones in several locations during emergencies.