Aeryon Labs Inc.
The quadcopter Aeryon SkyRanger provides live video viewed by the operator and anyone else on the same network as the UAS. Faye Roberts, Managing Partner, Scout Public Affairs Inc., stated “The value of Aeryon sUAS is that operators and command centers can view the video at the same time and make real-time decisions. The platform is a low-latency all-digital network – 256bit AES encrypted streaming video to multiple devices, embedded geotags and metadata. Since the data is encrypted, this enables organizations to be confident that their data is secure. The data is also stored on an SD card on the aircraft. The SD card can be removed for processing/viewing after the UAS has landed.”
Designed to military and government specifications, built-in safety features include automatic pre-flight checks where the system self-calibrates its sensors and performs self-tests to check for location (GPS coordinates) and/or communication protocols of the system. The system returns home and lands automatically when battery life has been used. Battery life and flight time are displayed at all times and the operator is notified when battery life has been reached to return home safely. Wind speed, calculated by the system, and distance flown, are the parameters for the calculation.
The ruggedized SkyRanger is weather-sealed for reliable flight performance in the most demanding weather conditions, with a high wind tolerance for sustained winds of up to 40-55mph gusts. The system operates in an environmental temperature range of -22℉ to 122℉. SkyRanger’s folding design protects the payload while the pre-assembled deployment and ease of replacement for the payload, battery, arms and legs makes it a perfect tool for extreme conditions with its quick and no-tool-needed assembly.
The SkyRanger offers up to 50 minute endurance with payload and has multiple payload options. With the HDZoom30 Imaging payload, the electro-optical camera offers up to 30x optical zoom, up to 60x enhanced digital zoom and 20MP still images. When using the Aeryon HDZoom30, operators can read a license plate or identify a face over 1000 feet away. The Stabilized Dual EO/IR High Resolution Camera offers simultaneous-streaming of daylight RGB and infrared imagery. The 3-Axis Stabilized High Resolution Camera provides still images and HD video.
Custom payloads are available for precise customer specifications and requirements with custom imaging and air sensing payloads including carbon dioxide and methane detectors. With Aeryon sUAS, if imagery and gas sensing is needed, while an additional flight would be required, the flight paths can be programmed, so the operator would fly the same flight a second time to gather the different types of data. Changing payloads in the field is easy, as the payloads can be swapped without tools.
Aeryon sUAS are designed to be carried and operated by a single person and with its folding design, it can even be carried in a backpack. They are shipped/carried in a hard case that can be stored in a car trunk or taken on an airplane. The cases enable the operator to carry the sUAS assembled or disassembled, depending on their application.
The SkyRanger is a commercial-grade UAS and the price range varies depending on customer requirements and application, starting at $60,000. Two days of training for an operator and ongoing technical support is included with each purchase.
Roberts explained, “The SkyRanger uses a low-latency all-digital network with secure network pairing and AES 256 bit encryption for security. This feature along with the 50 minute flight time and wind/weather resistance is key for our police agency customers. They can use our sUAS with confidence in situations where other aircraft (manned/unmanned) cannot fly. Aeryon is continuing to develop its product line to meet customer and industry requirements.”
Customers include all types of jurisdictions in the US and internationally such as the Michigan State Police and the York Regional Police in Ontario, Canada, who used the Skyranger at the Pan Am Games venues in the Toronto area in July 2015.
Sgt. Matt Rogers, Michigan State Police Aviation Unit, reports that Homeland Security did a 2013 study researching robotic aircraft for law enforcement with proven efficiency, the RAPS study, and Aeryon did very well on tests under numerous conditions. This resulted in MSP’s purchase decision of the Aeryon Sky Ranger, made possible by a Homeland Security grant.
He stated, “We received FAA approval in February 2015 and have flown 21 missions, with 75 hours of flight time, with only the one system, utilizing UAS cutting edge technology. Some agencies are operating without going through the FAA process and it is very important for law enforcement to lead by example. It took Michigan State Police nearly two years to get through the FAA process but, we were the first agency in the country to get a statewide operational area approved by the FAA.”
The MSP UAS is used primarily for aerial photography, where it really excels, with straight down photography for such things as accident reconstruction and crime scene mapping. They use software that seams the photos together into one large mosaic picture. They also use it for arson investigation and fire scenes, using a FLIR camera to show firemen the hot spots without endangering them. Tornado damage assessment, natural disaster assessment and hazmat operations have also been done, with enhanced officer safety from being able to assess from a distance.
It was additionally very valuable when they were searching for a fugitive with the helicopter and it had to return to base for refueling. They could maintain the aerial view with the UAS with the added advantage that the fugitive might hear the helicopter leave and show himself.
Rogers stated, “The UAS makes our Aviation Unit more versatile. One big thing was the battery life, with a 50-minute battery, an extensive fly time and the pop-in battery allows it to return, have a new battery installed and be back in the air.” He stated it is easy to use, with “point and click” technology, using a tablet and operators receive two days of training at Aeryon. To use the UAS, they download a Google map on the tablet and using visual references, “such as a yellow house,” the operator can click on where they want the UAS and it will hover there with a camera that covers 360 degrees. The UAS can fly in a circle or grid pattern and can tell you how many pictures will be taken and how much time is needed. Altitude is set by a slide on the side of the screen.
Draganfly Innovations Inc.
Chris Ozmun, Draganfly Web Content, Customer Service, and Sales, stated, “Draganfly Innovations has been in the small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) business in excess of 15 years now and as a result, our aircraft have achieved many firsts in the industry. For example, this includes being the first public safety sUAS to shoot aerial photos documenting a manned aircraft accident in an urban area, the first sUAS operated by a public safety organization flown at night to locate and save a life, the first sUAS helicopter to be granted a county-wide U.S. FAA COA and just recently named as a test platform at one of the U.S. FAA certified test sites. Draganfly has the largest Canadian SFOC and U.S.A. FAA COA "approved" installed sUAS customer base in North America. Agencies are daily using the Draganflyers for traffic collision documentation, crime scene documentation, search and rescue, tactical applications, and now forensic aerial 3D imaging.”
Draganfly is used for high resolution aerial photography, to provide a live video feed for a tactical operation or more often, document a serious auto accident, crime scene, or fire. The Draganfly can fly higher to capture the full scene with large collision debris fields. Draganfly system is quick to deploy, easy to fly, and the payloads deliver high quality, high resolution imagery. The detailed imagery can be used to create powerful, highly detailed 3D models, to allow detectives, prosecutors, and or even juries to view the scene from any angle at any time.
The Draganfly system, in combination Pix4D, provides a powerful aerial 3D scanner. The Draganfly can fly a grid pattern over the crime scene or collision scene, capturing images to create a highly detailed and extremely accurate 3D model of the area. The crime scene is thereby preserved and can be viewed from any perspective at any time by other officers to investigate and document the scene with millimeter accuracy. The 3D point cloud data is captured where every point can be measured, animated and combined with traditional 3D CAD or 3D models as needed.
Assembly of the Draganfly is quick and easy and the system packs down into a small rugged case. The patented folding frame, patent pending quick-attach props, folding landing gear, and quick-release payload system make for a quick assembly. The helicopter is flown into position, placed in a GPS position hold state and simply sent to climb to the desired altitude. The operator receives a live video feed from the helicopter, viewing what the camera sees, allowing you to easily frame and get the desired photographs.
The Draganfly digital video base station repeater is the heart of their system. The benefits of a digital video network are tremendous range, multiple users, high quality image, no static, and crisp clear video. Additional Draganfly authorized devices can join a live video feed after the base station creates the video network. The feed goes directly to their handheld device, tablet or local-area network.
This live video feed is very advantageous in situational awareness. For instance in a search and rescue operation, the primary observer is watching and searching the live video feed but having two or three or more observers viewing the images makes sure that nothing is missed. This is even more critical when a tactical team might be approaching a home with an armed suspect and the helicopter can be deployed to watch the back door and windows of the house just before making entry and the pilot and observer can watch the video feed to gain information.
Mesa County (CO) UAS Program Director Ben Miller utilizes both the Falcon and Draganflyer UAVs. He stated “The Draganflyer is mature and made all in-house. Since everything is made in-house, it works better together and they do not farm out any of the manufacturing. The DF Explorer has less issues than my iPhone, and this is important for public safety. Most companies don’t have control over all the parts and therefore Draganfly has less issues and is more dependable.” He reports that both the Draganflyer and Falcon are systems you can depend on.
Falcon Unmanned offers both the Falcon and Falcon Hover. Chris Miser, Falcon Unmanned, stated there are too many law enforcement applications of the Falcon and Falcon Hover to list but they include search and rescue, following a suspect on the run, crime scene/forensics photography, wide area mapping that might include photography to look for missing persons and well as seeking evidence, wildfires and structure fires, barricaded suspects, SWAT overwatch, traffic monitoring and disaster response.
Falcon Unmanned offers options for both fixed wing and VTOL. The Falcon is fixed wing while their multicopter, the Falcon Hover, is VTOL. Chris Miser stated, “We are the only company on the market with an interoperable system. Neither type of system can complete all of the missions that public safety agencies required so we achieve the next best thing of having two separate platforms but with interoperable payloads, training, and ground control.”
The Falcon is a tactical fixed wing aircraft providing professional capabilities at an affordable price, with a number of modular payload options, providing a true multi-mission capability. These include live video missions (night or day), photogrammetry, high resolution aerial photography, and multispectral sensing.
The Falcon’s unique modular design allows for easy assembly and dis-assembly in less than two minutes. Falcon is a backpack portable system using provided custom softbags. Falcon is an FAA-COA approved system and the fixed wing aircraft solution for the FALSO (Colorado) as well as being a provider for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Wildlife Crimes Technology Project (WCTP). The Falcon is made of aircraft grade composite materials and aluminum structures, professionally designed by an engineering staff with years of active duty U. S. military experience and hands-on manned/unmanned design experience.
Falcon and Falcon Hover are the only interoperable family of unmanned aircraft on the market and both share the same payloads, batteries, ground control station and training. This can lessen costs because they can use the same cameras and other payloads.
Falcon Hover’s modular design allows for the same two minute assembly and dis-assembly as the Falcon. The plug and play payloads give the Falcon Hover a true multi-mission capability for video and photography missions. Modular designing supports easy logistics support and reduces long term support costs.
The Falcon Hover is a tactical multi-copter aircraft providing professional capabilities at a fraction of the cost of other UAVs. It shares the same multiple payload capabilities as the Falcon. The Falcon Hover is also a backpack portable system like the Falcon and it can be transported or stored in ruggedized cases or shipment or being checked as luggage. The Falcon Hover is an FAA-COA approved system and one of the VTOL solutions for the Mesa County (CO) Sheriff’s Department.
Miser stated that both small and large departments, state, county, and local, all purchase UAVs. “In 5-10 years I expect over 50% of law enforcement agencies to have some kind of UAV system/capability.”
Regarding flight time and payload capabilities, Miser stated that in general the Falcon fixed wing is over 60 minutes flight time with payload and the multicopter is 20-25 minutes with payload at Denver altitudes. He stated that with payloads, they are the only company with hot swappable interoperable payloads. In addition to custom payloads, these include combined day/IR camera on two axis stabilized gimbal, fixed Sony A6000 24MP Mapping/Photography payload, Fixed Sony A5100 24MP Mapping/Photography payload, GoPro 4 Two Axis Stabilized Gimbal, GoPro 4 Three Axis Stabilized Gimbal (Falcon Hover Only) and Elph130 16MP Mapping/Photography payload on Two Axis Stabilized Gimbal.
Because of their simple hot swappable design, they can easily design new custom payloads as well as integrate new cameras when they come to market without changing the rest of the aircraft. All of the payloads provide a video feedback to the ground control station. The Falcon can easily be packed into a squad car trunk or other cargo department such as in an SUV and their customers in Africa transport them by horseback.
Because an agency needs to protect their investment and also provide for the safety of the public, w
hen an agency purchases a UAV, they certainly want to be able to have it returned from a mission. There are different ways to accomplish this. Chris Miser with Falcon stated, “Falcon is the only professional tactical UAV with a parachute. This provides our customer with one additional safety mechanism in case of any in flight emergencies. The parachute is our primary method of recovery but we can always do a belly landing as a backup. With our bungee launch and parachute landing we can operate from an area the size of a baseball diamond.”
Miser stated, “I think the biggest thing that we try to accomplish is being honest with our customers, providing military grade equipment at a fraction of the cost, and our interoperability/modularity. Most of the professional grade aircraft charge much more than our systems and do much less. We design it, we fly it, and we use it which means we aren’t in it just for the sales.”
Director Ben Miller from Mesa County stated that the Falcon is robust and desirable and he likes using their platform. While he does not use their quad, he believes there is a definite advantage in using the two Falcon UAVs because both the quad and the fixed wing can use the same payload and cameras, which means not having to buy duplicate equipment for additional UAVs.
Homeland Surveillance & Electronics (HSE)
Homeland Surveillance & Electronics is a full-service provider of industrial unmanned aircraft for law enforcement agencies around the world. They take pride in being a Veteran-owned company, operated by former military and retired law enforcement.
Dale King, President and Co-Founder of HSE-UAV, stated, "We are committed to providing cutting-edge solutions to those who protect our Homeland. HSE is the perfect opportunity to discover how our technology protects your team and our country." He further reports, “We are also one of the only American UAV companies that provide financing and grant writing, ensuring every department can afford a UAV. HSE’s aircraft are unlike anything else in the sky with a key-focus on safety, reliability and ease of use. When it counts, choose HSE.”
HSE's patented aircraft are designed and built in America, and each platform has passed DHS's rigorous requirements for safety, stability, reliability and functionality. HSE provides everything needed for successful UAV integration including Professional Flight & Safety Training, consulting, financing, FAA COA processing with access to FAA consultants that take the headache out of regulatory compliance, and will even partner with law enforcement agencies on public relations integration to build local and community support.
HSE also offers maintenance plans or mechanic's training for agencies who prefer to perform this in-house. Having been in development for over 10 years, HSE’s factory holds the original U.S. patent on multi-rotor unmanned aircraft.
Any size agency can benefit from this technology. HSE UAS are used for tactical operations, criminal pursuit, emergency response, hostage situations, criminal pursuit, traffic and accident investigations, forensics, explosives disposal units, hazardous material operations, search and rescue and myriad other law enforcement purposes.
The RDASS (Rapidly Deployable Aerial Surveillance System), deployable within three minutes, is great for shorter, quickly deployable missions and is the most affordable industrial-grade unit. The patented quad-copter RDASS comes in three versions and each can carry 3D gyro-stabilized HD video, FLIR or turret cameras, and has approximately 20 minutes of flight time. Having extra batteries on hand allows the aircraft to quickly land, swap batteries and get back to the mission, usually within about 90 seconds. The RDASS is easy to fly and maintain, and covers a surprising amount of territory with a speed of up to 35mph.
The Avenger is a helicopter unit with two propellers, which can be launched within about four minutes, perfect for more complex missions because of its longer loiter/search times and hefty payload. This payload allows for carrying multiple (and simultaneous) cameras or sensors, providing alternate views and control camera functions from the ground. It is available in electric or gasoline turbine, and capable of flying from 30 minutes to over 1.5 hours.
The RDASS is in a TSA-approved Pelican water proof case, weighing under 50lbs total, easily packed and moved via car/truck/SUV or by hand on the ground. The Avenger has a slightly larger footprint, ideal for truck, SUV & mobile command vehicles.
Live data & video from on-board cameras is available immediately and during flight, transmitted through the ground station and viewable on the display screen for the team on the ground. It can also be transmitted to additional/remote locations for mission planning or info gathering to response teams. Day-bright displays provide clear and informative flight data and are available in a variety of sizes, available in HD and encrypted formats. Their optional Ground Station allows pre-programmed flights, editing mid-flight, and performing certain tasks at each way-point. Ground Station commands include changing altitude or heading, landing, hover, minimum/maximum altitudes, and no-fly zones.
Using advanced technology and quality build to protect important components, HSE’s rugged UAS are all-weather capable using their patented heating/cooling system, flying through rain, snow, extreme heat/cold, even in winds up to 45 mph. They are operable in temperatures from -10°F to 100°F and can fly in high altitude situations above 12,000 ft. without loss of lift or thrust.
The UAVs feature full auto-pilot systems and advanced or military-grade GPS position holding, allowing the unit to maintain its position in nearly any environment with improved signal accuracy, stability and control. They also are equipped with a critical “Return Home” feature. If the operator becomes disoriented or if the UAV loses contact with the controller for any reason, the program activates and reliably elevates the aircraft to a predetermined height, flies in a direct path back to its starting location, lands and shuts itself down. While the unit is capable of taking off and landing on its own, HSE recommends that if the operator is able, they should always take control back and manually land the UAV.
Another important safety feature is Intelligent Orientation, which means that basically no matter which way the aircraft is facing, it will fly directionally based on where the operator is, so left is always left and right is always right. When things are in the air, there is a visual/optical illusion that occurs when the aircraft is observed from the ground and it is hard to determine distances, direction & height. Regardless of where the aircraft nose is facing, this feature keeps the operator in a better to always maneuver safely.
HSE features guidance systems that incorporate technology such as laser altimeter that will keep the unit set at a specific altitude no matter how the ground terrain may be changing. The advanced autopilots are making constant corrections to maintain and hold stability and GPS positioning, so the accuracy of coordinates and waypoints is undeniable. There's also the Sit & Stare feature, very popular for surveillance, which allows the unit to land and shut down motors while maintaining live video feed to collect visual data, then return to home once accomplished. This is very beneficial to increase flight time. There is also the ability for these UAV to lock on a moving target and keep it within Line of Sight, or to actually follow while keeping a discreet distance & height as to not be noticed, seen or heard.
HSE provides UAV Flight and Safety Training which includes ground school and hands-on flight experience, as well as a variety of warranty/service packages and product updates as applicable. Professional grade packages are available from $15,000 and up, depending on accessories, preferences & cameras/sensors. Lower cost models are also available, commonly used as trainer units or for less demanding field/mission requirements in order to meet their commitment to meet the needs of all departments and all budget ranges.
Phone: (407) 248—9927
The RIEGL RiCOPTER can be used by any size government agency. Currently, for commercial or government operation, the FAA regulates and approves the use of UAV’s. The RiCOPTER w/VUX-SYS survey-grade sensor has many mapping and industrial uses and also surveying of urban environments, construction-site monitoring, corridor mapping, and inspection of power lines, railway tracks and pipeline inspections. Since the RiCOPTER’s focus is to utilize the use of LiDAR combined with photogrammetry, its uses for law enforcement purposes are substantial. These include mapping of natural disasters or terrorist acts and any time a sophisticated aerial view is needed.
The VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) RiCOPTER is built as an octocopter in a coaxial array for redundancy and efficient operation with foldable carrier arms for ease of mobility. The RiCOPTER’s rugged frame allows for operation in max wind speed of 7m/s (22 f/s); 25 km/h (15.5 mph), with an endurance of approximately 30 minutes. The RiCOPTER is optimized to carry RIEGL’s VUX-SYS sensor with a range of more than 1,000 ft. and 10mm survey grade accuracy. The payload capability is up to 8kg (17.6 lbs.) which includes the sensor and dual cameras. It is under 25kg (55 lbs.) in vertical take-off weight and a maximum takeoff mass of under 25kg.
The RiCOPTER utilizes a 2.4 GHz ground station to transmit information from the ground station to the RiCOPTER and vice versa. This is used to complete waypoint navigation missions while also maintaining operator supervision of the aircraft while completing your projects.
Safety factors and the ability to be able to retrieve equipment is important to every law enforcement agency. The RiCOPTER has redundant, or dual flight control systems that work independently in the event of less than desired operation due to conditions beyond operator control. The RiCOPTER has a failsafe function and RTH (return to home) function for added safety. The RiCOPTER has a built in safety switch that does not allow operation of the RiCOPTER unless the safety switch has been removed before flight.
The RiCOPTER’s dimensions when folded are 624mm x 986mm x 470mm (25 inches x 39 inches x 18.5 inches). The RiCOPTER will fit into most SUV cargo compartments for transport when completing missions in the field for ease of use and quick access to the aircraft. In conclusion, the RiCOPTER is a robust and reliable multirotor unmanned aircraft system that provides a complete integration of a state of the art LiDAR sensor in a complete turn-key solution that can be utilized in a wide range of applications.
T-Hawk (Tarantula Hawk) Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) T-Hawk™ MAV
The term, micro air vehicle (MAV), refers to a small unmanned vehicle. A micro UAV’s smaller footprint enables a wide variety of missions that larger UAVs would not be able to accomplish due to their size.
The VTOL T-Hawk MAV at 17 pounds and just 14 inches in diameter is lightweight and portable, small enough to carry in a backpack. The operator is able to deploy in less than 5 minutes and the T-Hawk has the ability to be controlled from 3 – 6 miles away, dependent upon terrain. However, with all UAVs, current FAA regulations mandate that UAVs must remain in eyesight of the operator.
The T-Hawk has a flexible payload using gimbaled EO and IR imaging sensors in a modular, interchangeable package. The T-Hawk uses a ducted-fan design, where the primary thrust fan is incorporated within the body of the T-Hawk making it a Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) UAV. The VTOL design of the T-Hawk allows it to launch and land in smaller areas and more locations than fixed-wing UAVs. This is beneficial if the operator is working in environments that have limited space.
The T-Hawk is controlled by a “Toughbook” style laptop that comes with the full system. By using a laptop to control the platform, this means there is minimal operator training, which allows for easy deployment. The video from the on-board payload is sent to the laptop that controls the T-Hawk through a data radio. If the data link to control the T-Hawk is lost, it can be programmed prior to launch, to return to the launch location and land for easy retrieval. Another significant benefit of the T-Hawk is the ability to “hover and watch” over a location while in the air to use the cameras, or other sensors, to watch a particular location continuously.
The T-Hawk was designed as a military vehicle. It has been tested in a wide variety of environments including temperatures ranging from 20 degrees to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, light to moderate rain, and in winds up to 20 knots. The T-Hawk operates day or night in diverse conditions such as salt, sand, dust or fog, with 24/7 operation. The T-Hawk has been used in multiple industries and environments, from military use in Afghanistan to reconnaissance use during the Fukushima reactor issue in March of 2011.
The T-Hawk is able to fly for up to 50 minutes at sea level at 100 degrees Fahrenheit with a ceiling of 10,000 feet. It offers a multitude of payload options for the necessary mission including cameras for day and night, data links, sensors and more.
The T-Hawk supports a broad mission range, including IED identification and monitoring, target acquisition and damage assessment, homeland security missions, disaster surveillance and damage assessment operations. The T-Hawk is capable of autonomous flight with dynamic re-tasking and manual intervention. The adaptable flight planning can have up to 100 waypoints per flight plan and up to 10 pre-planned flight plans stored on the ground station.
Miami Dade Police Department was one of the first in the nation to fly law enforcement UAVs and they chose the T-Hawk. Currently, the Miami Dade police department is the only law enforcement application of the T-Hawk. The department received two T-Hawk systems in 2011 and has had success with the platform in various uses.
Miami Dade Police Department purchased the T-Hawk which had been used by the military with a DOJ grant because of its record of performance. Lt. Aviel Sanchez stated that technology has greatly improved since that time with smaller, lighter and easier to deploy units. Miami Dade is relocating their drone program toward more efficient use of their drone and it will go to the tactical unit where it will be available much more quickly for deployment, kept with the tactical vehicle and always available.
Sgt. Andrew Cohen of MDPD stated the best use for UAVs is for small departments who cannot afford an aviation unit or helicopter. Cohen suggests, “Figure out what you want to do with a UAV and then buy the UAV that suits that need. UAV technology is rapidly advancing and you need to look at that.”
Cohen reports they purchased the T-Hawk because of its reputation with the military and he is sure that the T-Hawk has also made more technological advances and is more sophisticated than their original gasoline-powered carburetor-drive UAV.
Kathy Marks has been a child abuse investigator for more than 30 years. She teaches classes regarding domestic terrorism and is a previous contributor to LAW and ORDER. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.