State Farm has been granted a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) waiver to use drones, under the Small Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Rule (or Part 107), to assess damages in communities affected by Hurricane Florence. The Part 107 waiver allows both flights over people and flights beyond the drone operator’s visual line of sight. These provisions were approved for four states impacted by the hurricane.

Sensor Vice President of State Farm, Robert Yi, said, “State Farm needs to quickly assess damage after significant weather events. Drone technology provides us with the capability to quickly deploy over a catastrophe site and assess damage from the air. The data we obtain from drone flights can be used to help determine the severity of damage. This also allows us to place our claims team on the ground and evaluate uninhabitable insured property.”

State Farm collaborated with Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) as part of the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program, using fixed-wing drones to reduce the risk of damage to people and property were there a malfunction during the operation. MAAP Director, Mark Blanks, said, “Drone technology has tremendous potential to serve the public, but before we can harness that capability, we need to demonstrate conclusively that ambitious operations can be done safely. This waiver –and the volume of research that backs it up –shows that this approach works.”