Project title: PFI:BIC — Enhanced Situational Awareness Using Unmanned Autonomous Systems for Disaster Remediation, $800,000 (9/15/2014 – 9/14/2017)

Team: PI: Kam K. Leang; Co-PIs: W. Yim (UNLV), G. Bebis, C. Murray, and G. Kent (UNR).  Industry partners: Drone America and SpecTIR

The goal of this project is to enhance the situational awareness capabilities of law enforcement agencies and first responders by employing unmanned autonomous systems (UAS) with high-resolution sensing and imaging capabilities for disaster remediation. Law enforcement agencies and first responders face significant challenges during an emergency event, such as a natural or anthropogenic disaster (earthquake, tsunami, fire, hurricane, tornado, flood, power or nuclear accident, act of war, or terror). One of the major challenges is acting decisively based on available information and considering human factors, making high-quality real-time situational awareness critical to effectively manage and safeguard civilians and in-field personnel. This project focuses on creating a smart emergency-response service system using UAS, both air- and ground-based system, equipped with state-of-the-art imaging, sensing, and communication systems to provide first response teams with high-quality, real-time information to act decisively and effectively via human-machine interactions. The objectives include: (1) develop and integrate UAS platforms, sensors, imaging and communication systems, and control and path planning algorithms to create a UAS-based smart service system for first response, (2) model the state of human and infrastructure during a disaster, identify the scene, and create access paths to safety, (3) test prototypes and pursue commercialization opportunties, and (4) educate the public and train first responders on the technology. This collaborative project involves faculty across four departments (mechanical eng., computer science and eng., electrical eng., and social psychology) at the University of Nevada, Reno and University of Nevada, Las Vegas, as well as experts from the UNR Seismology Lab and the local public safety sector of the Washoe County as system user. The organizations that support this project include the newly established Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center (NAASIC) at UNR, the state-supported UAS program management office Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS), and the Nevada Industry Excellence (NVIE). These organizations have interest in industry-university partnerships, innovation, and commercialization.