The idea of using drones for security purposes has always been there. Countless science fiction novels have depicted unmanned drones patrolling futuristic cities and governing the peace. Through the years as modern technology has slowly crawled its way to the realm of fiction, people have always looked at drones as a viable way to strengthen an area’s security. Whether as an ever vigilant eye in the sky, or a helpful servant when trying to survey a situation, drones have always had a potential role to play in law enforcement.
The main problem with drone use for everyday scenarios has always been price. An unmanned aerial vehicle equipped with security measures can cost thousands of dollars to build, and even more so for maintenance. For years it has always been an option, but the costs have always outweighed the potential.
With today’s drones being more and more commonplace, along with a more affordable price, drones can now be a legitimate support or feature for any local government’s security purpose.
In Austin, Texas, the local authorities of the Texas Department of Public Safety launched their very own drone program recently. The idea of a drone security system has always been there; they mentioned a similar drone idea was called upon nearly 8 years prior, but was however cancelled because of the money issues with managing and maintaining the drone alone.
The department has spent approximately $70,000 for 17 drones to be used for security. Their most expensive acquisition is an Aeryon SkyRanger drone, which costs around $48,000. The drone is equipped with a highly sensitive camera that can capture at an amazing resolution; it also has a flight time of 50 minutes before refueling or landing. They also put in specialized software and added to the drone’s battery capacity, which gives it a lot longer airtime and navigation systems than the average UAV. The department plans to use this drone for highway patrol as well as their eye in the sky on areas with heavy traffic.
When asked for a statement regarding the near $50,000 drone acquisition, the department had this to say: “The (drone) is an excellent tool to deploy when DPS aircraft are unavailable; if a mission is too dangerous for manned aircraft to be deployed; or when deemed more cost effective than conventional aircraft.”
For the rest of the drones in their arsenal, they have relegated them for the more common roles that drones have started to adopt in the United States. Roles such as search and rescue, aerial coverage, monitoring and capturing of interest points in crime scenes, and many more.