How to Program UAV Flights for Humanitarian Missions

UAVs are increasingly being flown autonomously rather than manually. But how does this actually work? In this blog post, I seek to “demystify” the process of programming UAV flights. While a number of platforms exist to program UAVs, they largely resemble each other. So I used the eMotion software that comes with senseFly’s eBee UAV to provide the demo below, which is actually based on a real humanitarian mission in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan. Please be sure to read the Humanitarian UAV Network’s Code of Conduct and Operational Check List before programming any UAV flights for humanitarian missions.

This demo is for simple flights only. If you’re flying near hills or mountains, for example, you’ll need to upload elevation data. I’ll provide a demo on how to program more complicated flights in the future. Of course, humanitarian UAV missions don’t end with the landing. The imagery needs to be analyzed and translated into information products to support decision-making. This requires using image processing platforms like Pix4D and PhotoScan. I’ll provide a demo on this in the future. In the meantime, if you’ve captured aerial videos or pictures of disaster areas, the easiest way to share them with humanitarian organizations and others is by posting them on the Humanitarian UAV Network’s Crisis Map. You can also partner with Humanitarian OpenStreetMap and MicroMappers to crowdsource the analysis of aerial imagery. These groups can be contacted via the Digital Humanitarian Network.



See Also:

  • Official UN Policy Brief on Humanitarian UAVs [link]
  • Humanitarian UAV Network: Strategy for 2014-2015 [link]
  • Common Misconceptions About Humanitarian UAVs [link]
  • Reflections on the Use of UAVs in Humanitarian Interventions [link]
  • Humanitarians in the Sky: Using UAVs for Disaster Response [link]
  • Google Already Developing UAV’s for Disaster Response [link]
  • WHO Using UAVs to Transport Medical Supplies [link]

3 responses to “How to Program UAV Flights for Humanitarian Missions

  1. Cool AI applications here! Given the battery constraints, the paths of UAVs seem much more frugal than the ones autonomous vacuum cleaners follow then trying to cover a surface:

  2. Pingback: Pictures: Humanitarian UAV Mission to Vanuatu in Response to Cyclone Pam -

  3. Pingback: Pictures: Humanitarian UAV Mission to Vanuatu in Response to Cyclone Pam - Quadcopter Blog

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