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Drones can be a terrific tool when it comes to Search & Rescue. Time after time, first-responders have been able to locate people in record time using an eye in the sky. The tool can be especially useful for night searches by using infrared imaging.

Same goes for catching potential crooks.

In Georgetown, Kentucky, someone triggered a burglar alarm at a local shopping mall. When police arrived on the scene, they found two suspects on the ground. But based on information they received from the alarm company, authorities had reason to believe someone else might be on the scene – and likely on the mall’s roof.

Enter the department’s drone unit. The police had only started using its new drone, which is IR-equipped, earlier this summer.

Once in the air, the heat signature of a third suspect quickly gave him away. He was hiding, very successfully, behind a corner parapet. To officers on the ground, he was invisible – but not to the officer piloting the drone.

A screenshot from the police drone video. Grab from local CBS station WKYT

The camera is so sensitive you can even see a thermal shadow up and to the left of the suspect: It’s from a spot where a police car had been parked just moments before. (The cars themselves clearly show their own hotspots.)

“He (the suspect) has an advantage being above them,” Assistant Chief Robert Swanigan told CBS affiliate WKYT. “They have no idea he is there. He could peek over the edge and see them. [The drone] works perfect for that.”

Perfectly enough that the suspect was arrested shortly after being spotted.

INVESTING IN SOLDIER DRONES?

A company called Duke Robotics has developed a 50-kilogram drone for use in the battlefield. The lethal octocopter can carry semi-automatic weapons, and even a grenade launcher. It’s called TIKAD. And it looks like it means business.

The Duke Robotics TIKAD

“Troops can use TIKAD to handle potentially dangerous situations quickly and efficiently from the air, reducing the need to send our sons and daughters into harm’s way,” states the company’s website. “This technology also allows troops to potentially disarm a situation remotely, without ever deploying a ground presence.”

Now, the company has also announced that it’s offering up to $15 million in stock.

“Anyone, not just wealthy investors, can purchase stock for as little as $450 and own a part of this award-winning company,” says its news release. If owning part of a flying weapon system appeals to you, you can search them online.

IMPORTANT EXPERIMENT IN KANSAS

The State of Kansas has partnered with a software company for a bold step toward Unmanned Traffic Management, a key part of integrating manned and unmanned aircraft safely in the same airspace. The Kansas Department of Transportation has teamed up with AirMap Inc., to implement “an airport notification and awareness system for drones.

“This airspace management system will be made available to airports across the state. Participating airports will be able to accept digital flight notices, communicate with drone operators, and prepare for UTM milestones on the horizon, such as automating airspace notification and authorization for commercial drone flights,” says the release.

It also quotes Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer as saying the following:  “Strong leaders set the pace, and we’re proud to see the rapid growth of Kansas UAS advance to a national level. This initiative continues a proud tradition of leadership and excellence in aviation.”

Airspace integration is a huge task that will take place over the coming years, with the FAA and NASA playing key roles, along with many industry and agency partners. The goal is to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into the same airspace as manned aircraft, so that businesses like drone delivery (and more) can operate without posing any risk to manned operations.

 

 

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