One of the ways drone mapping is often used is for search
and rescue. When a large landslide occurred in Colombia, the
government sent out an international call for help. Answering
the call was the Canadian-based GlobalMedic’s RescUAV
team. Teaming up with the local emergency-response
organizations in Mocoa, Putumayo province, the RescUAV
team began working on this complex disaster landscape.
Equipped with a generator, two Aeryon SkyRanger UAVs, a
laptop, and Pix4Dmapper Pro, the team was ready to face the
challenge of operating in a disaster zone with difficult terrain
and limited power and data access. During the mission,
the team relied heavily upon Pix4Dmapper Pro to provide
Orthomosaics and 3D models of the flight data for the other
responding agencies. The RescUAV team mapped more than
200 hectares, accompanied emergency task forces, and
captured imagery and video, then were able to generate 3D
maps in the field. This made it possible for local authorities to
assess terrain conditions on the go.
Paul Spaur of Pix4D states, “There is incredible use in
generating fast and actionable maps during a disaster
response. Incident Command can define areas of interest
and disseminate them to multiple field crews. The crews
can import their areas into Pix4Dcapture, fly a drone
autonomously, and capture data. They can then download
the images from the drone to a field laptop, and rely on the
fully offline (and secure) processing to make maps that can
Once generated, the maps were used by local authorities
to quantify and manage critical infrastructure damage
and to identify areas that were at risk of future floods and
landslides. From this, they were able to plan actions and
examine infrastructures to allow the displaced population to
safely return to their homes; in this case, some 4,000 people
were allowed to return to their homes.
Having a fast and safe way to produce 3D maps of areas
devastated by disasters shows that drones and aerial
mapping can indeed save lives.
Above: The aftermath
of a recent landslide
Below: Using two
Aeryon Sky Ranger
UAVs, the RescUAV
team works to map
the disaster area.
Having a fast and safe way to produce 3d maps of areas devastated by
disasters sHows tHat drones and aerial mapping can indeed save lives.