Emergency responders to learn about, explore uses of unmanned autonomous vehicles

Symposium on UAS applications for search and rescue hosted by University of Nevada, Reno


3/16/2016 | By: Mike Wolterbeek  |

The first-ever symposium on the uses of aerial robotics systems and autonomous vehicles for emergency first responders is being hosted by the University of Nevada, Reno April 6-8.

"The potential for uses of unmanned autonomous systems in search and rescue operations is enormous," Warren Rapp, business director of the University's robotics and intelligent machines center - 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."

A line-up of experts will present the latest information on new technologies; federal, state and local laws; air traffic management for drones; advanced drone search techniques; sensor technology for aerial systems; reconnaissance systems and more.

Keynote speakers are David Kozar, search and rescue expert and operator of a commercial UAV center in Illinois, and Gene Robinson, owner and president of RPFlightSystems, Inc. and the non-profit RPSearch Services in Wimberley Texas. Other presenters include NASA's Dr. Frank Aquilera, who will speak about unmanned aerial systems traffic management systems; attorney Ann Morgan, who will speak about laws that either hurt or help first responders; Dr. Kostas Alexis, an expert on sensor technology; Nevada Department of Public Safety's Paul Burke, who will speak on advanced search techniques with drones and Kevin Spiares, who will speak about solving problems through industry collaborations.

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

Law enforcement agencies, search and rescue professionals, emergency management personnel, UAS manufacturers, students, researchers and the general public are all invited to attend to the event.

"We have a great relationship with sheriff's organizations and first responders, and they are excited for this event to take place," Rapp said. "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.

Featuring two days of seminars, the symposium also includes a social event where participants will be treated to the Aces AAA baseball team's season opener on Thursday, April 7.

Rapp said the robotics systems center, NAASIC, is proud to partner with area businesses, such as the El Dorado and Silver Legacy resort casinos, and Drone America to host the symposium. For more information and to register visit the symposium webpage at http://www.unrsar.com.

The Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center, NAASIC, is the University of Nevada, Reno's robotic systems and intelligent machine research and industry collaboration that includes land-based, aerial and stationary robotics and advanced manufacturing systems.

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