A trailer, custom-built at Texas A&M’s Automated Fabrication & Design Lab (AFDL), is helping an insurance company test software used to evaluate storm-damaged roofs from a drone-mounted camera.

Students helped build a trailer that's part of a software testing project.

The 30-foot-long, 10-foot-tall trailer, built at the Riverside Campus lab, by Christopher Paulk, AFDL manager, and four student employees, has 10 frames supporting interchangeable roof surfaces that can be independently adjusted at a variety of angles.

To test the software’s ability, the roof surfaces that simulate hailstorm or hurricane damage are scanned by the drone-mounted camera.

If adopted, the software will provide USAA with a new approach to evaluating insurance claims after severe weather.

"It's sometimes much quicker to get a machine to disaster zones than a human," said Kathleen Swain, USAA property and casualty group underwriter. “This software could help us speed up the claims process and help put people back to where they were before the event.”

The USAA software is being tested by Robin Murphy, director of Texas A&M’s Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue. Murphy introduced the insurance company to Paulk, who proposed the trailer.

“Instead of going with fixed structures, I suggested building a trailer they can move anywhere, with roof panels that can be folded to whatever pitch they want,” said Paulk.

Assisting with the trailer project were environmental design majors Justin Cannaday, Luke Fangue, and Troy Hassmann, and construction science major David Gardner.

The street-legal trailer was designed by the AFDL team and built using a plasma cutter, welding equipment and other tools at the lab facility.

Murphy and USAA are testing the software with the drones this fall at the Riverside Campus.

This article was originally published by the College of Architecture.

Texas A&M Foundation 
The Texas A&M Foundation is a private nonprofit organization that solicits and manages investments in academics and leadership programs to enhance Texas A&M’s capability to be among the best universities. 

You can support research like this in the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University with a gift of an endowment to the Texas A&M Foundation. For additional information or to learn more about scholarships, research and program-focused giving to benefit the college, contact Larry Zuber with the Foundation at (800) 392-3310, (979) 845-0939 or lzuber@txamfoundation.com.


Larry Zuber

Assistant Vice President for Development
College of Architecture
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