An organization dedicated to using drones for emergencies and disaster response has been awarded a grant from the US government. A news release says the funds will be used to “support drone operations within federal, state, and local public safety agencies and emergency services organizations.”

The Airborne International Response Team (AIRT) is all about using #dronesforgood. And part of that mission is to ensure that people who are using drones for these purposes are comprehensively trained to make the most of these machines during an emergency.

That’s what the grant will be used to help achieve.

Training component

There’s not much point in dispatching pilots and drones to a natural disaster or emergency situation if they’re not completely up to snuff on piloting. That’s why AIRT’s DRONERESPONDERS program will be helping to implement training standards developed by NIST – The National Institute of Standards and Technology.

You’ve perhaps seen, or even taken part in one aspect of NIST drone training. The NIST method involves precise flying and gimbal control to “look” into multiple carefully positioned plastic buckets and clearly identify letters at the bottom of each bucket.

If you’ve done it, you get it. If not, here’s a video showing the NIST process:

It’s a great training system for improving piloting skills…

More details

The point here, as you have likely guessed, is to get everyone’s skills up to speed. The NIST method also allows those flights to be measured against the benchmarks of speed and accuracy:

The first step toward evaluating aircraft capabilities and credentialing remote pilot skills is to get everybody onto the same measuring stick. That’s where standard test methods can play a key role.  Especially across public safety, industrial, commercial, and even recreational pilots. All need to demonstrate essential maneuvers to maintain positive aircraft control while performing whatever payload functionality is necessary to successfully perform the intended tasks.

Adam Jacoff, project leader of NIST’s Emergency Response Robotics Project

The NIST system, says the Director of DRONERESPONDERS, is a good tool:

The Standard Test Methods for sUAS developed by NIST are the most applicable and easy to use mechanism we have seen for evaluating basic skill levels of public safety remote pilots in concert with the capabilities of their UAS systems. Our focus now will be on helping public safety agencies across the nation both understand and adopt the NIST tests.

Chief Charles Werner (ret.), Director of DRONERESPONDERS

Wait, there’s more!

The news release says that Katie Thielmeyer, UAS program manager and firefighter/paramedic with the Woodlawn (Ohio) Fire Department, will be in charge of the project. The release does not reveal the amount of the federal grant.

Image: NIST

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