Application of Drones in Humanitarian Relief: A Review of State of Art and Recent Advances and Recommendations

Ruqaya Emad Alfaris, Zahra Vafakhah, Mohammad Jalayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


With the advent of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), known as drones, their deployment in various sectors, especially in humanitarian relief, has witnessed considerable attention. Despite the growing number of studies highlighting the potential of drones, there remains a discernible research gap in consolidating the lessons learned, challenges faced, and regulations governing their usage, particularly in the United States. The aim of this study is to provide a comprehensive examination of drone deployment in humanitarian relief through a systematic literature review. By outlining the state of the art of studies and practices of the application of drones for humanitarian relief and healthcare support, and analyzing case studies and regulations, this paper presents a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis and offers a clear picture of the current state of drone application in relief efforts. Results indicate that while drones offer unique advantages, such as accessibility to hard-to-reach areas and rapid response, they also face challenges relating to regulatory restrictions, privacy concerns, and logistical limitations. Based on the analysis, this paper concludes with a set of recommendations for the effective employment of drones, including fostering multi-stakeholder partnerships and streamlining the approval process for emergency drone flights. This study emphasizes the need for collaborative regulatory frameworks and best practices to maximize the potential of drone technology in aiding those in distress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTransportation Research Record
StateAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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