BRINC Drones Fly to Turkey to Assist With Earthquake Relief
These days when a humanitarian disaster strikes anywhere in the world, one hears a common refrain: “Send in the drones” The deepening crisis in Turkey, following its massive earthquake of February 6, is no exception.
Drones have already filmed the quake’s devastating aftermath: Collapsed buildings, more than 25,000 dead, a population displaced by the hundreds of thousands, and deep cracks and fissures in the Turkish countryside.
Now some foreign drone companies are zooming in to help with ongoing victim surveillance and aerial relief and rescue operations.
Not surprisingly, one of those companies is BRINC.
The Seattle-based company is famous for having designed some of the drone industry’s first law enforcement UAVs to support SWAT team operations. Its founder, Blake Nesnick, then a young tech whiz, struck upon the idea after informally advising Las Vegas police after the deadly mass shooting at the Harvest Festival in 2017. Over the next six years, the company built an impeccable reputation among first-responders facing a wide range of challenges, including mass shootings, hostage scenarios and search-and-rescue missions
And now, increasingly, natural disasters.
Last year, BRINC captured global headlines when it was reported that the company was assisting government forces in the Ukraine to resist the Russian occupation. The company not only donated $150,000 worth of drones and supplies, it also conducted secret flight training operations in conjunction with Ukraine military forces. Since then, BRINC’s nonprofit philanthropic arm, the BRINC Global Rescue Network, has donated drones and support services around the world.
The decision to assist government forces in Turkey and neighboring Syria came naturally, BRINC officials say. As in the Ukraine, many of the same drones designed for SWAT team operations – for example, the company’s patented LEMUR S Tactical Drone – have capabilities ideally suited for forced entry missions, especially indoors.
In Turkey, BRINC chose to send a team of UAV pilots and a fleet of its LEMUR drones – which can smash windows and break through bolted doors – to help Turkish forces search for survivors or identify remains by navigating into damaged buildings. BRINC’S LEMUR drones are designed to operate in GPS deprived environments, to break into buildings and clear areas for SWAT teams, and to establish 2-way communications. Using these same capabilities for search-and-rescue missions in collapsed and damaged buildings after a natural disaster is an ideal adaptation, BRINC officials say.
BRINC has another special advantage over other drone companies – a network of contacts in the US special forces and American embassies around the world, especially in war-torn countries. In Turkey, BRINC was placed in touch with army field commanders who opened the door to the company’s team, providing translators and authorization to conduct search missions more or less at will.. In just a few weeks, BRINC has already become a catalyst for the country’s search and rescue efforts, especially along the border with Syria, where official Turkish forces cannot operate so freely, due to ongoing military hostilities.
Back at its corporate headquarters, BRINC’s working on a more advanced version of the LEMUR S – one that can fly at night in heavy rain and during 60 mph winds, conditions often found in disaster scenarios. Another bold innovation is the “Brinc Ball,” a nearly indestructible cell phone that a SWAT team or even an unmanned craft can toss into a forbidding environment to facilitate 2-way communications with hostage–takers or disaster victims. BRINC plans to unveil its emergency “throw phone” at a public exhibition in Seattle on March 2.
BRINC’s ability to carve out and expand this drone niche – call it “Swat 2.0” – in just the first few years of its existence is remarkable. It’s just one more indication that BRINC is an industry pioneer and indeed, one of the most exciting drone companies to watch moving forward.