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Seattle drone company helps search for survivors in Turkey after deadly earthquake

The 23-year-old CEO also introduced his latest tactical drone product, which he hopes will help more people in need across the globe.

SEATTLE — More than 50,000 people are now believed to have been killed in Turkey and Syria due to devastating earthquakes in February.

A group of Washington aerospace innovators traveled across the world to help crews on the ground: the team behind Seattle-based Brinc Drones just returned from a mission to search for survivors using their advanced tactical drone product, the Lemur S.

"They just need a way to look inside those buildings," said Blake Resnick, the CEO of Brinc. "Staircases leading up might be collapsed, or a few stories might be collapsed, or there might be rubble obstructing entrances.”  

"We had family members who would come up to us and say, 'you know, I think I have a family in this building, on this floor,'" said Andrew Coté, Brinc's Chief of Staff.  

After the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria, Coté said the death and destruction he witnessed was significant. 

“It looked like a nuclear bomb went off," Coté said.

"There were families camped out outside of these buildings that they used to live in, where, you know, they were waiting for first responders to recover the remains of their loved ones," said Resnick.

Resnick's Lemur drone features capabilities including glass-breaking, two-way communication and laser-based lidar technology-- which helped inform Turkish locals of their loved one’s locations, even if the outcome was grim.

Coté said they performed the mission with the blessing of Turkish authorities, but only wished they had been able to get there sooner.

"There was a significant amount of silent pride that we had, that we were able to bring these families closure," Coté said.

Upon returning to the United States, the Brinc drones team returned to their headquarters in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood.  

"We work with around 400 public safety agencies today," said Resnick, whose drone is also used by SWAT teams for hostage negotiations.

With his drone invention, Resnick isn't just shattering glass windows. He's also breaking the mold of what you might expect the CEO of an $80 million startup to look like: Resnick is only 23 years old.

"Blake and I went to dinner, and he got carded, and I went 'What? Is this real?'" said Coté, joking.

Though he may be young, local first responders are paying attention. Resnick packed his Fremont headquarters with hundreds of public safety professionals in February as he introduced to them his newest drone product: the Lemur 2, which has improved night vision and several other enhancements.

“Zero light, it has position-hold and obstacle avoidance," said Resnick. "3-D laser scanning technology as well. So as it's flying around, clearing a building, or even on the exterior building, it’s mapping in 3-D-- which can help first responders tremendously."

Informing the design of the Lemur 2 are lessons learned in previous missions, like in Ukraine last year, where Brinc donated drones to Ukrainian first responders, training them on the technology to fight for survival against Russian forces. 

He also was called in to help with the recovery efforts in Surfside, Fla. in 2021, ultimately assisting in sorting through the rubble of the deadly condominium collapse.

Resnick is hopeful the Lemur 2 will be even more helpful in situations of ongoing disaster relief.  

"There’s just a huge amount of opportunity for these things to fundamentally help people," said Resnick.


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