Insitu, the Boeing-owned unmanned aircraft maker, has prepared drones at Paine Field in Everett, Wash., that could fly over and monitor the area around the mudslide, which has destroyed homes and killed 18.
Our news partner KING5 notes that the FAA and FEMA have given Insitu approval to use the drones in case the situation in Oso worsens. Insitu has a “Rapid Response” team that manages its aerial support operations for similar emergencies.
The drones, which are equipped with infrared cameras, could be used both during the day and night to provide real-time updates for emergency workers.
Interestingly, the state of Washington just passed legislation that regulates the use of drones by government agencies and requires specific authority be given before an agency can purchase or deploy drones. There are, however, exceptions for emergencies and life-threatening situations.
Insitu is based in Bingen, Wash., and was purchased by Boeing in 2008 for $400 million. The company just recently became the only drone operator to receive FAA approval for commercial use.