It has been two weeks since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippine islands, blasting the area with the deadliest storm on record, with a death toll that currently stands at over 5,200 citizens. Over 23,000 were injured, and at least 1,500 are still missing. It’s truly a depressing and tragic affair, and our giant freakin’ hearts go out to those still suffering the typhoon’s wrath. Over three million people are displaced, their homes and businesses ruined, and CNN tapped into just how devastating the damage is by using a quadropter drone to get an aerial view of just a small area of the wreckage.
I get overwhelmed just trying to clean the inside of my house, so it’s nearly impossible for me to conceive of clearing the area once my home had been demolished. The sheer manpower involved with getting things back to some semblance of order on the islands needs to be at an apex. It seems like no area went even the slightest bit unscathed.
Unfortunately, Karl Penhaul of CNN has got to be one of the worst on-air personalities I’ve ever seen, making all the footage worse with his strained speech and constant mentions of the dead. I kinda wish they’d have aired extended footage in silence, which would have made it all the more haunting. Having lived successfully through one Louisiana hurricane after another, I am used to the damage that weather can cause, but Haiyan was definitely an eye-opener.
And now for something equally tethered to hardships and pain, but with a more hopeful focus. In 2003, 40-year-old Henry Evans had a stroke-like attack due to a birth defect, and he now lives life as a mute quadriplegic, able to move only his head and a finger. But if you thought that disability would hold him down, you’d be wrong. Using a telepresent robot to present his story to the audience of a recent TEDTalk, Evans talked about his inspiring work with Robots for Humanity, a company that works with those whose physical debilitations can be lessened by robotic devices.
He then talks about how he was given the chance to use an aerial drone, controlled with head movements, that allowed him to fly around his house, check up on the grapes growing in his garden, and inspect the solar panels on his roof. The ways in which such a device can be used are numerous, and Robotics for Humanity want to bring their inventions to everyone, along with an open-source code so that robotics enthusiasts can add their own input.
Take a look at the TEDTalk presentation below, and stay tuned for Evans’ quad-copter acrobatics.