Mini Unmanned Copters Offer New Eyes in Sky for First Responders
Manned choppers have proven their worth many times over in helping law enforcement agencies and other first responders keep our communities safe. But only 1 percent of the estimated 15,000 to 18,000 law-enforcement agencies in the U.S. have access to air assets. They cost too much to buy and operate for most municipalities.
AeroVironment (AV), a Monrovia, Calif.-based company that has been providing U.S. and allied armed forces with unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for use in the war on terror now has introduced the Qube Small Unmanned Aircraft System for Public Safety Professionals. It is the first unmanned aircraft system tailored to law enforcement, first responders and other public safety missions based on military-tested technology.
The Qube Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL ) air vehicle is small enough to easily fit in the trunk of a car and can be unpacked, assembled and ready for flight in less than five minutes. It provides an immediate eye in the sky at a fraction of the cost of a manned aircraft.
The three-foot-long, five-pound aircraft is powered by four electric motors running off a rechargeable onboard battery pack that can be swapped out in minutes, giving the Qube back-to-back-mission capability.
It has an endurance of 40 minutes at altitudes from 100 to 500 feettwice the endurance of similar unmanned aircraftand carries a payload of a high-resolution color camera and thermal camera that allows the ground-based operator to see in any lighting condition without changing payload. It has a one kilometer line-of-sight range.
It's designed to provide a portable aerial vantage point for threat assessment, situational awareness, search and rescue, perimeter security and a variety of other missions.
The Qube is controlled from the ground using a tablet computer with intuitive user interface. Simply clicking on the touch screen tells the Qube where to go. It can hover quietly and autonomously holds position and altitude.
"We want to make it as accessible and easy to use as possible," Steve Gitlin, AV's VP of marketing strategy and communications, told TechNewsDaily.
The cost of a mission-ready Qube is comparable to a fully loaded police cruiser, Gitlin said.
AV will launch a testing and evaluation program with select public safety agencies beginning next year to further refine use-case needs and enhance the Qube's capabilities.
"We want to gain experience with this solution," Gitlin said.
U.S. Military Orders Helicopter Drones to Report for Duty
NASA Recruits Unmanned Aircraft for Earth Science
Behind the Scenes: What It's Like Inside a Predator Drone Control Station