Chinese drone company DJI has announced a partnership with emergency teams in the US to put its technology in the hands of first responders

A partnership between US fire and sheriff departments will see DJI drone technology used for disaster response (Credit: Pexels)

A partnership between US fire and sheriff departments will see DJI drone technology used for disaster response (Credit: Pexels)

Drone manufacturer DJI is providing unmanned aerial technology to improve disaster response operations through partnerships with US emergency departments.

The DJI Disaster Relief Program will provide drone and imaging software to help first responders manage search and rescue operations during natural disasters such as wildfires, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes.

The company says drones have helped 278 people escape disaster zones, while also allowing teams to monitor and map damage to infrastructure, such as bridges and power lines.

Drone tech will be provided to The Los Angeles Fire Department, Menlo Park Fire Protection District, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and the North Texas Public Safety Unmanned Response Team — a volunteer group providing drone support to local authorities during emergencies.

Director of public safety integration at DJI Romeo Durscher said: “To date, at least 278 people around the world have been rescued from peril by drones and this program will ensure that many more lives are saved by mitigating the risks to emergency responders on the ground and on the front lines of natural disasters.”


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More than 900 US safety organisations already use DJI technology, but the new programme will supply is latest technology, including top-end drones, visual and thermal cameras, drone fleet management, and airspace management software.

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DJI is also promising to provide technical support, repair services and additional personnel to “efficiently deploy drone technology in times of need”.

Mario Rebello, regional manager for DJI in the US, added: “This year we aim to make sure we equip emergency responders with access to the industry’s best tools and support they need to rapidly respond and save lives during natural disasters.”

The partnership comes despite a US military ban on the use of DJI equipment. The US army was prohibited from purchasing equipment from the market-leading Chinese drone manufacturer in 2017, citing “cyber vulnerabilities associated with DJI products”.

Similar sanctions were placed on Chinese telecommunications company Huawei.

DJI distanced itself from the ban at the time, claiming that its drones are made for “peaceful purposes” and were not marketed to military customers.