A good friend pointed me to this blog post this morning about the use of UAVs in Humanitarian contexts:
This is something that we have been thinking about for a while, and talking to a few folks about, including Patrick (the author of the blog).
We agree that Serval's store-and-forward Rhizome file distribution service seems a good fit for this kind of use case. It would allow UAVs to opportunistically transfer data between them while in flight whenever they were able, and similarly to opportunistically and automatically downlink data whenever in range of a suitable base station (which could just be a mobile phone someone is carrying).
All up, this could make it very feasible to collect imagery, cellular signal strength maps and other useful data in a fairly automatic and continuous basis, especially if combined with some intelligent flight control and coordination software.