You already know that UAVs help scientists track and dissect the inner workings of hurricanes. But drones can also help in the aftermath of these huge storms and other natural disasters.
Immediately after a natural disaster, authorities need to perform damage assessment, so that they know how many people are affected and how widespread the chaos might be. Drones are a cheap, efficient way to put many sets of digital eyes in the sky.
Outfitted with still, video and infrared cameras, drones are also effective for search-and-rescue missions. They can fly far and wide through an area, following a precise search pattern in order to locate missing people.
They can help first responders like police and fire units figure out where to set up temporary staging areas. They can spot survivors or even listen for sounds that they make, or pinpoint the locations of bodies.
Even if streets are cluttered with impassable debris, drones can immediately take to the air and begin providing critical data. This kind of instant-on capability may make the difference of life or death for untold numbers of people.