Experts Exploring How to Incorporate AI into Disaster Relief, Humanitarian Assistance Efforts

09 August 2018

The topic of artificial intelligence (AI) for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) took center stage last week during the Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Workshop, co-hosted by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).

Held at CMU’s Pittsburgh campus, experts in the fields of academia, industry, as well as officials from the federal government gathered to discuss the role of AI in HA/DR efforts.

"The problem of catastrophes affecting humanity will unfortunately always be among us," said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. David J. Hahn. "The great minds in this room are here to figure out how we can best leverage artificial intelligence and autonomy to better deliver resources and people to those in urgent need."

The workshop explored scenarios where AI might help victims of disaster including the use of drones to help with search and rescue efforts, employing robots for the purpose of communicating with victims trapped in hard-to-reach locations and gathering data from crowd-sourced social media reports as well as computer models and simulations to assess the most effective tools to help in disaster situations.

"We've brought in some of the best roboticists and technologists in the world, with the single goal of keeping people safe during disasters," said Moore. "Technology to save lives is inspiring for everyone in the AI field."

With follow-up meetings planned for the future, workshop attendees have been tasked with coming up with ideas (short, mid and long-term) for incorporating AI into real-world disaster scenarios.

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