Emergency responders to learn about, explore uses of autonomous vehicles

First-ever symposium on UAS applications for search and rescue hosted by University's autonomous systems center

Emergency responders to learn about, explore uses of autonomous vehicles

First-ever symposium on UAS applications for search and rescue hosted by University's autonomous systems center

The first-ever symposium on the uses of autonomous systems and vehicles for emergency first responders is being hosted by the University of Nevada, Reno Sept. 14-16.

"The potential for uses of unmanned autonomous systems in emergency situations is enormous," Warren Rapp, business director of the Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center, said. "This symposium will explore opportunities, present case studies and include panel discussions to foster dialogue on how first responders use, or would like to use, autonomous systems."

The conference will begin with a keynote presentation by David Kovar, search and rescue expert and operator of a commercial UAV center in Illinois. He is a rated pilot and a small unmanned aerial systems  pilot, both fixed wing and quad copter. He has 20 years of search and rescue experience including SAR missions in ground, swift water and high angle rescue roles in California. He is well-versed in incident command systems and is an instructor for the Illinois Search and Rescue Council.

Law enforcement agencies, search and rescue professionals, emergency management personnel, UAS manufacturers and researchers are all invited to attend to the event, which includes a small trade exhibit, presentations of academic research, case studies and vendor talks - all designed to inform current and potential users about the latest state-of-the-art in UAS technologies.

"Because we are one of the few Universities in the country that is heavily involved in researching the benefits and capabilities of UAV's being integrated into search and rescue operations we decided it was a natural fit to host this UAV SAR Symposium," Rapp said.

Bringing together first responders, vendors and industry leaders, the symposium will foster dialogue on how first responders use or would like to use autonomous systems.

"We have a great relationship with Sheriff's organizations and first responders, and they are excited for this event to take place. We have a National Science Foundation grant to develop and integrate UAS platforms and systems into disaster scenarios that includes several University faculty, the Washoe County Emergency Management Office and the Washoe County Sheriff's Office."

Adapting existing UAS technologies to work in public safety offices requires understanding the specific needs and constraints of how drones and other autonomous systems could be used in emergency or public safety scenarios.

Participants can attend targeted panel discussions, hear real-world case studies, learn about academic research and listen to vendor talks all geared toward streamlining adoption and training of UAVs into search and rescue and emergency management.

Another of several presenters include Gene Robinson, owner and president of RPFlightSystems, Inc. and the non-profit RPSearch Services in Wimberley Texas. Robinson has been flying unmanned aircraft for search and rescue/recovery since 2005, visiting 39 states and 4 countries. Most recently, he acted as "airboss" in Incident Command for the Memorial Day Flood in Wimberley, Texas, managing both manned and unmanned assets and the federal interface to keep both flying safely during a flood of historic proportions.

The symposium will be centered in Reno during the Reno National Championship Air Races with accommodations and activities at the El Dorado and Silver Legacy resort casinos. It will end on Sept. 16 with a public service appreciation luncheon at the Reno Air Races including a visit to the Drone Zone and other relevant exhibits. Symposium registration will include transportation, lunch and tickets to the Air Races.

Rapp said NAASIC is proud to partner with area businesses, such as the El Dorado and Silver Legacy resort casinos, Drone America and the Reno Championship Air Races to host the symposium.

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