One of the most significant benefits of drones is their ability to easily get to places where it would be costly or dangerous for humans to go. That includes not only high in the air above buildings and trees, but also into active natural disaster areas and ongoing crime scenes. With a camera payload and other technology the police can get a bird’s eye view of the situation without requiring a helicopter or putting themselves at risk.
With autonomous drones the level of oversight required of the drone by its controller is greatly reduced when compared to a drone that needs to be manually flown and closely monitored. The drone can be instructed to perform its mission in a certain area and its controller can be kept updated in real-time of its progress. Any issues that occur or items of interest are notified to the controller and the mission can be modified or terminated as necessary.
Autonomous drones can be used to free up resources whether it be an officer that would be required to actually fly a drone or using a drone to search an area rather than a number of officers. This allows an efficient use of resources and budget while not compromising operational effectiveness.
A drone should allow a subset of missions otherwise flown by the police helicopter to be handled by the drone. This frees up the helicopter to focus on missions better suited to the helicopter and appropriate to the use of such an expensive asset. Drones are a fraction of the cost of a helicopter but potentially can be used for a large percentage of the missions currently undertaken by helicopters. There is therefore a significant opportunity to substitute drones where appropriate and benefits to be seen.
Some specific uses of an autonomous drone include:
- Mobile sentry while area being searched. Notifies security personnel or officer if movement detected.
- Rapidly get visibility of an incident to aid in gaining awareness of situation and response required. Uses visible light and thermal imaging cameras. For example, road traffic accident or report of break-in in progress.
- Locate vehicle within an area. Visible light camera and ANPR on drone.
- Track vehicle and constantly report location back to controller.
- Visibility of area where doing so by an officer may pose excessive risk.