Tonga – Drones Play Key Role in Cyclone Gita Disaster Recovery

A company from Brisbane, Australia, at the cutting-edge of drone technology is leading the way in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for disaster recovery in the wake of Cyclone Gita in Tonga.

V-Tol Aerospace had received a AUS$100,000 grant under the Ignite Ideas Fund to help commercialise VEURON Technology – an onboard super-computer designed to process visual data instantly.

Queensland’s Innovation Minister Kate Jones said the work V-Tol Aerospace are doing in Tonga’s disaster recovery program is an excellent example of the innovative uses of drones for public benefit.

“The Rocklea-based business is working under contract to the World Bank and with support from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to assist the Tongan Government to conduct aerial surveys in the aftermath of Cyclone Gita,” she added.

“By providing the accurate information about the damage sustained in what has been the worst cyclone to hit Tonga in generations, this Brisbane technology company is playing a part in helping the people of Tonga rebuild their communities.”

V-Tol Aerospace managing director Mark Xavier said VEURON technology used a form of artificial intelligence to compare imagery collected before the disaster to the situation now, identifying the scale and level of damage suffered by the various communities across the islands.

“Each day we will fly an area up to 90km² and process the imagery into photographic maps overnight which can then be used by damage assessment teams to prioritize the recovery effort,” Mr Xavier said.

“This approach will increase significantly the speed of target resourcing the recovery.”