The value of unmanned technologies in emergency response operations, with their flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and rapid deployment capabilities, becomes evident in the wake of natural disasters. For instance, this past August, officials in Juneau, Alaska, successfully used drones to help efforts following the devastating flooding that impacted the area. Drones played a critical role in data collection for disaster recovery and assessment, as discussed in our recent Uncrewed Views podcast and webinar featuring experts from Frontier Precision. Similarly, uncrewed vehicles were deployed following a volcanic eruption in the Canary Islands in 2021 to facilitate search and rescue missions and gather crucial information safely.

Given the success of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in supporting disaster response, it's no wonder that government officials and public safety organizations rely on drones to perform critical operations related to preventing natural disasters. Beyond the immediate need associated with emergency response, there is an opportunity to leverage drones for asset prevention. In fact, it has become a crucial aspect in the inspection and maintenance of infrastructure assets such as utility poles that have been the cause of a number of fires and is currently being investigated for the Maui fires.

Unleash live offers a scalable software platform that facilitates the collection, storage, and distribution of data gathered by intelligent connected machines. The company has applied these systems to collect data during the 2018 California wildfires and to aid in wildfire recovery and disaster management operations in Australia.

To shed light on how Unleash live's systems contribute to disaster response efforts, Commercial UAV News interviewed Hanno Blankenstein, the company's CEO. Blankenstein explored the capabilities of Unleash Autofly technology and the company's plans for enhancing software support for UAV-related work.

Commercial UAV News: How do Unleash live's systems assist government officials and public safety organizations with their emergency response operations?

Blankenstein: In the face of growing climate-related disasters like the recent Maui fires and the 2019 bushfires in Australia, our Unleash.Autofly software, a collaboration platform for remote drone operations, provides government officials and public safety organizations with the tools and insights needed to respond rapidly, make data-driven decisions in real-time, and mitigate the impact of natural disasters on both communities and critical infrastructure. We have deployed our solution with authorities in California, Europe and Australia during many critical response situations since 2016.

Commercial UAV News: Could you describe Unleash live systems and how they operate?

Blankenstein: Unleash live's video analytics platform combines vision and AI analytics to provide data-driven insights for large-scale enterprises. We connect camera devices to a centralized account, allowing authorized individuals to view live streams from anywhere. Once connected, we enable the latest AI analytics on video streams, delivering data insights into workflows for reporting and review without disrupting an organization's existing operations. Our product family includes our software Unleash.Cloud, our drone GCS, Unleash.Autofly, and our edge solution, Unleash.Edge.

Commercial UAV News: How do drone-related operations benefit from the platform?

Blankenstein: Unleash live's Unleash.Cloud platform and Unleash.Autofly software act as the collaborative hub for remote drone operations, playing a vital role in inspecting and maintaining infrastructure assets. They utilize advanced machine learning algorithms to analyze inspection and emergency response images or footage in real-time, automatically identifying energy or transport infrastructure anomalies even before a disaster happens, heat map danger zones, and damaged property such as burned homes or cars. This streamlined approach reduces the burden of manual inspections and enables early issue detection, preventing catastrophic incidents and significant production losses.

Commercial UAV News: Why is Unleash live's platform well-suited for disaster response projects?

Blankenstein: Unleash live's Autofly addresses the challenges faced by inspectors and responders during fire disasters by providing rapid, AI-powered aerial assessment, safe remote operation, and seamless data integration. This enhances the overall operational awareness, effectiveness and safety of disaster response efforts, ultimately helping mitigate the impact of such events on communities and infrastructure.

Commercial UAV News: What's next for Unleash live? Do you have new projects or enhancements in the works?

Blankenstein: We're focused on advancing features and capabilities in computer vision across key industries including Energy, Utilities, Renewables, Transport, Airports, Resources, and Emergency Response. Our commitment is to excel in operational and asset management efficiencies. We are continuously developing and enhancing our products jointly with clients, with upcoming areas of focus including swarm support, dock rollouts, greater remote control and automatic camera settings for optimal capture and mapping, inspection tracking, and asset logging, UTM integration, drone-based AI and machine learning, and expanded support for non-DJI drones such as Vtols, Skydio, and Mavlink powered drones, as well as helicopters.

Click here to see video of Unleash live's system used in bushfire damage detection.

Click here to see video of Unleash live's systems enable thermal imaging from a drone.