August 11, 2016

Sens. Warner, Kaine Announce $1.7 Million For Virginia Tech To Pioneer Innovative Technology In Emergency Response And Disaster Recovery

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced today that Virginia Tech has been awarded more than $1.7 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to research the use of unmanned aerial and surface vehicles to monitor air and water pollutants through toxic agent testing, and develop an approach for emergency response and disaster recovery.

A $900,835 NSF award will allow university researchers to study how unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and unmanned surface vehicles (USV) can be used in conjunction to rapidly assess hazardous agents, such as chemicals and radioactive particles, in the air and water, and provide emergency responders with technology that can offer rapid, actionable information on the dispersal of such hazardous agents in the environment. In addition, the funding will allow Virginia Tech to develop and provide an interdisciplinary robotics education for 75 Blacksburg High School students, in order to encourage careers in robotics and emergency response.

“First responders are already using drones to help respond to natural disasters, battle wildfires, conduct search-and-rescue, and assess environmental and infrastructure damage,” said Sen. Warner. “This funding will provide Virginia Tech with resources to further advance the use of unmanned technology in emergency response.”

An additional $876,913 grant will help the university develop an approach to disaster resilience that integrates behavioral and infrastructure response in the event of a disruption to critical services, such as interdependent power and transportation systems, due to a natural disaster. This effort to promote infrastructure restoration through behavioral adaptation has the potential to accelerate efficient recovery and allow businesses and families to return to productive activities sooner following a disaster.

Last month, Sens. Warner and Kaine announced a $899,477 grant from NFS to help Virginia Tech and other Virginia colleges develop courses that research and explore the uses of UAS.