Toward an autonomous aerial survey and planning system for humanitarian aid and disaster response
March 7, 2020
In this paper we propose an integrated system concept for autonomously surveying and planning emergency response for areas impacted by natural disasters. Referred to as AASAPS-HADR, this system is composed of a network of ground stations and autonomous aerial vehicles interconnected by an ad hoc emergency communication network. The system objectives are three-fold: to provide situational awareness of the evolving disaster event, to generate dispatch and routing plans for emergency vehicles, and to provide continuous communication networks which augment pre-existing communication infrastructure that may have been damaged or destroyed. Lacking development in previous literature, we give particular emphasis to the situational awareness objective of disaster response by proposing an autonomous aerial survey that is tasked with assessing damage to existing road networks, detecting and locating human victims, and providing a cursory assessment of casualty types that can be used to inform medical response priorities. In this paper we provide a high-level system design concept, identify existing AI perception and planning algorithms that most closely suit our purposes as well as technology gaps within those algorithms, and provide initial experimental results for non-contact health monitoring using real-time pose recognition algorithms running on a Nvidia Jetson TX2 mounted on board a quadrotor UAV. Finally we provide technology development recommendations for future phases of the AASAPS-HADR system.