In partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), Troup County, Georgia and Skydio—the leading U.S. drone manufacturer and world leader in autonomous flight—The Ray announced a strategic safety collaboration in August of 2023 to develop a cutting-edge “drone as a first responder” (DFR) program along The Ray Highway. 

The goal of the initiative is to enhance safety and emergency response capabilities in the West Georgia region. This is a rural area that hosts multiple key interstate corridors, including Interstates 85, 185 and 75, where critical freight connectivity occurs for major manufacturing and logistics facilities in the Southeast. Acting as “first eyes on the scene,” drones deployed in this area after an accident could remotely transmit photos and videos captured overhead, providing key information and situational awareness to police, fire, public health, and other stakeholder agencies. 

DFR programs have helped agencies that are responsible for public safety and emergency management improve efficiency, response times, and overall emergency services in a variety of jurisdictions across the country. DFR is enabled and regularly deployed in Georgia by the City of Brookhaven, and this partnership with Troup County became the nation’s first local government in a rural region to acquire and train on the equipment and operationalize the technology. Through the support of The Ray and Skydio, Troup County will work towards establishing a formal drone program, complete with a trained team and verified hours of operation.  

“The Troup County Community Development Department is excited about incorporating drones into the team,” said Jenny Parmer, Community Development Director for Troup County. “These drones are going to bring some incredible benefits to emergency response and infrastructure safety. Led by Chris Bagley, a former U.S. Army unmanned aerial vehicle master instructor, this project is getting off the ground with the Marshal Office, but the long–term vision is a collaborative effort across local public safety and emergency response departments.”

“At Skydio we are proud to partner with The Ray and Troup County in their pursuit to make their community a safer place. Drones enable enforcement agencies to assess potential dangerous scenes and get to hard-to-reach areas where every minute is critical,” said Fritz Reber, Head of Public Safety Integration at Skydio. “We are committed to supporting Troup County and The Ray as they seek to grow the county’s drone program into a sophisticated DFR program.”

“The Ray is committed to transforming transportation infrastructure to eliminate fatalities on roadways,” said Harriet Anderson Langford, Founder and President of The Ray. “By investing in DFR with Troup County, The Ray extends its focus beyond road safety to emergency situations where timely and effective response is crucial.”