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Building a Drone Program for Public Safety

Lost hikers found, swimmers rescued with a deployed floatation device, wildfires located from above. Headlines about emergency responders using small, unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) are increasingly common around the world.
    COLLEGE STATION, TX, January 28, 2018 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Lost hikers found, swimmers rescued with a deployed floatation device, wildfires located from above. Headlines about emergency responders using small, unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) are increasingly common around the world, but the need for accurate, reliable information to inform the many decisions that must be made to implement this exciting new technology effectively can be hard to come by, and expensive.

Texas A&M now offers a five-hour, 0.5 CEU credit online course designed to enable emergency managers to make strategic decisions about starting a sUAS program. The course is unique in that it is not about flying, passing a Part 107 license, or using mapping software but rather about how to define missions for sUAS, train and equip for those missions, and understand the legal, regulatory, and community support ramifications. It specifically covers the types of missions that different small UAS have been used for, what are the practical considerations in buying a small UAS or working with a drone company, what kind of manpower and administrative impact sUAS will have, and best practices for training and deploying. The course distills lessons learned by the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue members' deployments to more than 15 disasters, starting with Hurricane Katrina (2005) and including Fukushima Daiichi, as well as nearly 400 sorties at Hurricanes Harvey and Irma-all at the request of local agencies, and closely coordinated with existing assets. While aimed at emergency professionals, the course offers valuable insights for independent operators looking to serve emergency responders. The course can be taken online, or in conjunction with hands-on classes that are also being offered. The course costs $200, and is the first in an online certificate program being co-developed by Texas A&M Humanitarian Robotics and AI Laboratory and Florida State University Center for Disaster Risk Policy in conjunction with the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue, a nonprofit organization created to study and implement robotic technology in disaster and emergency response.

To learn more or register, see Contact for more information about the course and online delivery mechanisms. Contact for classroom versions of the class or to have a tailored, hands-on class.

The Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue is a nonprofit corporation established in 2001 by Texas A&M, and is now an independent entity, the world's leading organization in deploying, promoting, training, documenting, analyzing, and disseminating scientific knowledge about the use of unmanned systems for disasters. See for more information or contact Dr. Robin Murphy,


The Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR) mission is to foster unmanned systems being effectively used by formal emergency management agencies through voluntary national and international activities that deploy, promote, train, document, analyze, and disseminate scientific knowledge. CRASAR is a nonprofit corporation organized for exclusively charitable, scientific, and educations purposes with the meaning of section 501( c)(3) (Applied) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.

The activities in which we expect to engage in to meet this charitable mission include, but are not limited to:

Deploying, upon request of incident command staff, regional volunteer teams who are vetted and trained on the unique attributes of unmanned systems for disasters, even if the requesting agency cannot guarantee reimbursement and having the unmanned systems in use within 12 hours of the event;

Providing "just in time" training and consultation for emergency professionals to enable them to effectively use the resources they have available;

Conducting field studies and translative research and development in unmanned systems for the prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery from critical incidents;

Collecting, archiving, curating, analyzing, and sharing data about the use of unmanned systems and related technologies; and training emergency management, and related, professionals in advance, either online or in person, on unmanned systems and the latest best practices.

Dr. Robin R. Murphy, Texas A&M
David Merrick, Florida State University

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