The N.C. Department of Transportation has received national honors for its innovative use of drones during the state’s coordinated response to Hurricane Florence.
NCDOT was awarded the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s XCELLENCE Award in the humanitarian category at the AUVSI’s annual XPONENTIAL conference this week. The award comes with a $5,000 prize, which the Division of Aviation has elected to present to the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund.
The entry from the Division of Aviation’s drone program was selected out of more than 140 other entries worldwide. The division was honored for its groundbreaking use of emerging drone technology to keep people safe from a tragic storm in a way that had never been done on this scale.
“Utilizing drones and other technological advances helped NCDOT keep people safe during Hurricane Florence and aided all our recovery efforts,” said N.C. Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon. “Being recognized for this exemplifies exceptional teamwork coming together to use technology in ways we couldn’t even imagine just a few years ago and is an example of ingenuity at its best.”
More than a dozen NCDOT drone teams flew more than 200 missions and captured 8,000 pictures and videos of the damage and flooding left behind by Hurricane Florence in September. This helped state and federal agencies make real-time decisions around aiding emergency response, planning detour routes, assessing future repair needs, expanding disaster declarations and warning the public of the dangers faced on North Carolina’s roadways.
“The Humanitarian Awards demonstrate the profound ability of the recipients to positively impact lives through unmanned systems technology,” said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI. “We proudly recognize the five winners and hope their accomplishments will serve as an inspiration to utilize unmanned aircraft systems to accomplish remarkable achievements for our society.”
This was the first year that AUVSI has presented an XCELLENCE Award in the humanitarian category. Zipline, a partner with NCDOT on the Drone Integration Pilot Program, was also among the winners selected.