Drones can go fearlessly where humans hesitate to tread. Therein lies the advantage.
Government authorities as well as insurers are waking up to the potential of using them to assess post-disaster damages, especially at sites not marked safe for humans to enter. In a pilot program in 2017, AGCS flew 52 drones in areas affected by hailstorms, hurricanes, floods, fires and explosions. “Among these were zones affected by Hurricanes Maria and Harvey and by the earthquake in Mexico,” says Christopher Sheldon, who heads AGCS’s efforts to adopt new technologies for better claims handling. “We also did an aerial survey of the California wineries after the wildfire.”
The team found drones to be efficient damage assessors, reducing costs for the insurer and accelerating the claims process for clients in some cases. For example: they can assess roof damage after hailstorms.
One area of advancement that the two experts are watching closely is indoor sensor technology. “At the moment, drones cannot be used indoors to study internal damages to properties because they lack the ability to avoid obstacles. This will be an interesting area of development,” Christopher says.
He’s also interested in how solar-powered drones evolve. Currently, the battery life of a small drone is restricted to 30 minutes. UAVs used at construction sites can hover for four-five weeks tops. “Solar-powered drones will have longer operation time. They may be able to monitor sites for up to a year,” he says.