CyPhy Works is a Massachusetts-based tech firm that built the drone the Red Cross is using to scan the damage from Hurricane Harvey. The drone flight over the hard-hit Texas areas in and around Houston will deliver data that can help the Red Cross prioritize relief efforts. CyPhy, which counts UPS among its investors, says it builds “advanced aerial platforms are designed for customers in defense, public safety, and commercial industries. We deliver rugged, high-endurance tethered drones with secure payload data and autonomous flight.”
The Red Cross drone has a lot to report — early estimates of Harvey’s material damage approach $200 billion. The Red Cross will employ one drone over Harvey, according to a Reuters report, and may use the same technology to assess damage and prioritize aid after Hurricane Irma, which is expected to strike Florida this weekend. The CyPhy drones employ a technology it calls PARC™ (Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications), which “uses a patented microfilament system to deliver secure communication. The direct connection with CCS can’t be intercepted, jammed, or spoofed.” The drones cost about $70 an hour to operate, a tenth the cost of a helicopter, according to CyPhy.