Civic Futures Awards

Using drones to protect residents and firefighters

Austin Fire Department

Robotics Emergency Deployment Team

The problem

The change that we are trying to incorporate is reducing the exposure to risk. Historically, we have not immediately upgraded our first responders with the latest tools for gathering data on the emergency scene.

Solution / Approach

Through the use of robotics, the fire service has an opportunity to rapidly collect vital information through remote sensing devices. It is through aerial, ground, and maritime robotics that first responders can now remotely begin operations and remain remote in order to enhance firefighter safety and improve services.

Core team
  • Assistant Chief Richard Davis
  • Captain Kregg Phillips
  • Lieutenant Andrew Reyes
  • Lieutenant Mike Scott
  • Fire Specialist Greg Harris
  • Firefighter Coitt Kessler
  • Firefighter Jason Burnside
Key advisors
  • Captain Greg Pope
  • Captain Liz Donelson
  • Firefighter Romon Lewis
  • Firefighter Sara Coon
  • Firefighter Alex Zottarelli
  • Firefighter Oliver Friedheim
  • Firefighter Cameron Anguiano
  • Firefighter Preston Culver
  • Fire PIO Chris Wilkinson
What can make it sustainable?

We must have continued support from upper management and city leaders. This includes resources and funding. There must be continued opportunities for exploration into the robotics industry.

Advice to others

I think we were able to find the right approach in navigating the negative connotations that were initially attached to UAV technology.