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AUA Partners in ResponDrone Project Funded by EU and South Korea

MADRID, Spain – On May 20, 2019, the American University of Armenia (AUA) project team attended the kickoff meeting of ResponDrone, an €8.3 million Horizon 2020 initiative funded by the European Union (EU), and €300 thousand contribution from the South Korean government.

The ResponDrone international consortium composed of 20 partners from 12 countries includes AUA and the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Armenia (RA). The three-year project aims to develop an integrated solution for first responders to easily enhance their situation assessment capacity and their own protection. This will include the integration of a fleet of drones that can be operated by a single pilot during multiple synchronized missions to enhance their situation assessment capacity and civil-protection mission. This will simplify and accelerate situation assessment, information sharing, decision-making and operations management in disaster response.

AUA is leading two major research and quality assurance components of the project. This includes analysis of existing best practices on drone use in disaster response. Also, in partnership with the French High Committee for Civil Defense (HCFDC), AUA will identify the requirements of first responders and the capabilities that they deem effective to have when using drones in disaster management. The RA Ministry of Emergency Situations will participate as end user, identifying its expectations and needs, as well as conducting disaster simulations and  trainings using the drone system.

“By using the innovative ResponDrone system, emergency response teams will be able to respond more rapidly, effectively and efficiently to an emergency or disaster and therefore save more lives,” said ResponDrone project manager Max Friedrich from the German Aerospace Center (DLR). “The fleet of drones will provide enhanced capabilities to support mission assessment and search and rescue operations, as well as forest fire fighting.”

The AUA Acopian Center for the Environment is leading the project at AUA, bringing together its environmental disaster and GIS and remote sensing expertise with the systems design expertise at the AUA Akian College of Science and Engineering (CSE). “This project offers our researchers a unique opportunity to assess and recommend system requirements in case of natural-disaster management for a wide variety of first responders from different countries. This exercise has many parallels with introducing new technology in environmental management, from forest fires to biodiversity monitoring,” says Alen Amirkhanian, director of the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment.

Satenik Mnatsakanyan, CSE faculty member, will manage the project. She has more than 20 years of experience in IT product development, including solutions for disaster response. Her team will include AUA faculty and students. “ResponDrone gives us a unique opportunity to engage our skills in solving complex human-technology interface problems, bridging cross-cultural and inter-institutional gaps,” says Mnatsakanyan. “What excites me most though is that we will be able to engage our high-caliber students in a project that has high social and technological value,” she states.  

ResponDrone is an international project co-funded by the EU and the South Korean government, which aim to develop an integrated solution for first responders to easily operate a fleet of drones for multiple synchronized missions to enhance their situation assessment capacity and own protection. The EU contribution is 8 million euros whereas South Korea is contributing 300 thousand euros. For further information: https://respondroneproject.com/.

The AUA Acopian Center for the Environment, a research center of the American University of Armenia (AUA), promotes the protection and restoration of the natural environment through research, education, and community outreach. The AUA Acopian Center’s focus areas include sustainable natural resource management, biodiversity and conservation, greening the built environment, clean energy, and energy efficiency, as well as information technology and the environment.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.

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