Symposium to focus on drone training |

Symposium to focus on drone training

Mike Wolterbeek

Heading a stellar line-up of speakers for the second annual UAS Search and Rescue Symposium, Gene Robinson, who literally wrote the book on how to use drones for search and rescue and disasters, will talk about how to train public safety agencies in the use of aerial and ground robots in emergency response.

“We’re excited to have a speaking schedule full of the leaders in the UAS field again for this year’s symposium,” said Warren Rapp, business and development director for the University of Nevada, Reno’s robotics and intelligent machines development group — the Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center. “They all have direct experience related to search and rescue and disaster operations — valuable information for any agency wanting to use the latest and greatest technology to enhance their operations.”

For example, Robinson has travelled from coast-to-coast, in 30 states and internationally in four countries, to assist law enforcement and Texas EquuSearch in SAR and other support missions flying the Spectra flying wing, which his company RP Flight Systems manufactured. In 2012, he authored “First to Deploy,” the first “how-to” book on using UAS during search and rescue and natural disasters.

Joining the line-up of speakers, Steve Pansky, with 32 years of experience with the FAA and Homeland Security, will talk about the operational aspects of both public and civil unmanned aircraft in support of first-responders. Pansky has broad experience in both the aviation industry and public safety, and now works for Science Applications International Corporation supporting the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Tactical Operations Emerging Technologies Team.

Other speakers include Steve Bishop, of Insitu who will speak about U.S. Air Force and special operations programs; Brian Kulpa, who will speak about Commercial UAS cinematography and 3-D mapping; Craig Hange of NASA who will speak about NASA search and rescue activities; and Gino Hodges of Plexsys who will speak about integrating UAS command software into the incident command system.

The University is hosting the symposium April 11-12 at the Silver Legacy Resort and Casino, and registration is now open.

The symposium brings together search and rescue managers, aerial robotics companies and federal agencies to learn the latest in uses, and potential uses, of unmanned autonomous systems in search and rescue operations. The symposium will explore opportunities, present case studies and include panel discussions to foster dialogue on how first responders use, or would like to use, autonomous systems.

Law enforcement agencies, search and rescue professionals, emergency management personnel, UAS manufacturers, students, researchers and the general public are all invited to attend to the event.

Participants can attend targeted panel discussions, hear real-world case studies, learn about academic research and listen to vendor talks all geared toward streamlining adoption and training of UAVs into search and rescue and emergency management.

A vendor night will be held the first night of the event at the Silver Legacy Resort and Casino. Featuring two days of seminars, the symposium also includes a social event where participants will be treated to the Aces AAA baseball team’s game Thursday, April 12.

For more information and to register visit the symposium webpage at

The Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center, NAASIC, is the University of Nevada, Reno’s robotic systems and intelligent machine research and industry collaboration that includes land-based, aerial and stationary robotics and advanced manufacturing systems. NAASIC promotes the economic development of the autonomous systems industry in Nevada with funding and support from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

— Mike Wolterbeek is a Communications Officer for the University of Nevada, Reno. He can be reached at