A drone operated by the S.C. Department of Transportation shows flooding on the Sampit River near Georgetown. Several companies and government agencies are using unmanned aircraft to assess damage from Hurricane Matthew in one of the technology’s first real-life tests. PROVIDED/S.C. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
by Thad Moore
Drones have buzzed all around the Carolinas in the days since Hurricane Matthew made landfall north of Charleston, hovering above beaches, bridges and homes as the region works to assess the storm’s damage.
The flights represent some of the first real-world displays in the U.S. of how the technology can be used in the aftermath of a natural disaster. The hurricane made landfall less than two months after federal regulators loosened their rules for commercial drone flights, removing long waits for permission to fly and making it easier for businesses such as wireless phone providers, insurers and the news media to use aircraft to assess the situation.