Embry-Riddle, AIRT to Study Drone Use by First Responders

Police officer flies a drone
Embry-Riddle’s work with the Airborne International Response Team (AIRT) can help pave the way for future safety initiatives, such as Drone as a First Responder (DFR).

With the Airborne International Response Team (AIRT), Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University plans to collaborate on education and research exploring how first responders are deploying small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) within the National Airspace System (NAS).

AIRT, the leading 501(c)3 non-profit organization supporting the use of unmanned systems for public safety and disaster response – the official home of DRONERESPONDERS® – will work with Embry-Riddle to deepen understanding of how public safety and emergency services organizations are utilizing sUAS compared with other aviation use cases in the NAS. Collaborative research will also examine how drones operated by external parties may be impacting traditional public safety operations including law enforcement, firefighting and emergency management missions.

“AIRT and the DRONERESPONDERS have established themselves as the leading non-profit voice in the public safety sUAS sector,” said John M. Robbins, chair of the Aeronautical Science department at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach, Florida, campus. “This partnership will help us integrate first responder-centric data into the research we are presently conducting.”

The partnership will complement Embry-Riddle research projects currently underway as part of their Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). These initiatives, such as the ASSURE A50 Small UAS Traffic Analysis Project, are directly related to operational safety in the NAS. AIRT has been an organizational partner of ASSURE since 2020.

“As the largest accredited university system specializing in aviation and aerospace, and with a residential campus based in Florida, Embry-Riddle is an ideal partner for us to collaborate with to better understand how public safety sUAS operations are impacting the NAS,” said AIRT Executive Director Christopher Todd. “We’ll leverage the power of the DRONERESPONDERS program to provide robust insights that bolster the public safety portions of the ASSURE research.”

Florida Public Safety Coordination Group

DRONERESPONDERS recently announced the Florida Public Safety Coordination Group as their first state-level initiative to organize drone training and cooperation between emergency response agencies.

Todd believes groups like this could benefit significantly from the research that Embry-Riddle and other ASSURE partners are conducting, by allowing them to better evaluate the airspace and low-altitude aviation traffic within their respective jurisdictions. He expects the findings will be extremely valuable for public safety initiatives such as Drone as a First Responder (DFR). The information will also assist in determining how future beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations are executed will all types of UAS, he added.

“Working alongside Embry-Riddle and the other ASSURE partners will allow us to help shape the next generation of aviation operations,” said Todd.  “This will ultimately lead to increased safety in the NAS for all partners and stakeholders.”

About AIRT

Based in Miami, Florida, AIRT® (Airborne International Response Team) is the leading 501(c)3 non-profit organization supporting the use of unmanned systems for public safety and disaster response.  AIRT offers a wide range of educational programming, training events, and mission-critical deployments in support of public safety UAS operations and designed to help people prepare for, respond to, and recover from complex emergencies and major disasters.  AIRT is the official home of DRONERESPONDERS®.  For more information, visit: airt.ngo or droneresponders.org

*Ginger Pinholster contributed to this report.