Forensic engineers receive FAA exemption

By Emily Aasand | July 21, 2015

RTI Group LLC, a forensic engineering firm, has joined the list of businesses who have received a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Section 333 exemption to use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for forensic investigation. This UAS service will provide important documents for law firms, insurance adjusters and surveyors regarding debris fields, explosions, fires and land surveys, the company said.

With the exemption, RTI Group will be offering the firm’s AerExam Aerial Examination Vehicle Solution, which uses photography and videography to enable accident response and forensic investigations to be quicker, safer and more affordable.

The AerExam UAS has onboard imaging systems, and once the data has been collected and downloaded, software is used to create a 3D point cloud with the imagery and GPS data.

“Granted our 333 exemption from the FAA allows RTI to be at the forefront by utilizing advanced technology for investigations and ultimately providing the factual answers to our clients,” said Jeremy Reynolds, COO for RTI Group. “The 333 exemption allows us to conduct aerial examinations of accident scenes that preserve the evidence in a 3D point cloud. We look forward to implementing RTI’s AerExam service; this technology will allow our experts to safely and accurately inspect areas of interest while providing a cost effective solution to our clients.”

The company said that going through the Section 333 exemption process gave them the ability to review the services they were actually providing through unmanned vehicles.

“Actually having to put it down on paper and having to explain what we’re going to do with it, really opened our eyes to all the different types of situations we end up using the UAVs for,” Reynolds said. “We’re able to utilize UAVs at an accident site, where we can document a debris field and preserve the evidence for the investigators to be able to review at a later date.”

Reynolds said his team has also used unmanned aircraft in the marine industry—deploying UAVs over the sides of ships or up to the boom to gather inspection video, rather than sending a person into an unsafe situation to gather that data.

“Every day, an accident comes along and we find ourselves using the UAS in a different capacity for the investigation,” said Reynolds.

The RTI Group ultimately provides services for law firms and insurance companies—helping them prepare for litigation, arbitration, or to figure out and determine the best way of settling a lawsuit or claim. “By having a UAS, we’re able to provide a new service from a whole new perspective,” added Reynolds.

“We’ve been around for a long time and we were one of the first to bring animation to the courtrooms in the early 80s and have always tried to be pioneers in our industry,” said Reynolds. “We’re really excited to be in that position again with the UAVs.”


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