Dear Security Industry: Are These the Drones You’re Looking For?
The industry is buzzing over the use of drones in video surveillance applications. The only question that remains: Are you ready for the revolution?
Security Applications Abound
The security industry is a natural extension of drone video technology where surveillance drones can make a huge difference. In 2012, the Japanese company Secom announced the world’s first autonomous drone for private security. Since then, dozens of other security firms have jumped on the bandwagon, competing to offer their clients the very best high-tech protection possible.
The Secom drone can link with an intruder detection system that sends beams of laser light along the perimeter of a secure space. When the detector senses motion, the drone automatically takes off from a nearby charging station to investigate. It sends real-time video of an intruder or vehicle and even its li-cense plate to a Secom security center for analysis. According to Secom’s Akihiko Takeuchi, the drone “won’t leave the company premises but it will record imagery of intruders leaving it.” As technology improves, surveillance drones will likely patrol at-risk areas 24/7/365, acting both as a deterrent and as a “set-and-forget” mechanism against break-ins.
Surveillance drones can and will be used for many other security applications. Consider these wide-ranging possible end users: banks; casinos; airports; ports; maritime; border patrol; transportation; government facilities; large stadium and events; law enforcement; fire departments; neighborhood watch; home and ranching/livestock; industrial and power plants; high-tech firm and other corporate; college campuses; construction sites; prison; post-natural disaster environments; endangered species and anti-poaching; sensitive product shipping; anti-pirating surveillance; criminal car tracking; crowd control; VIP security; offshore drill rigs and more
All of these market segments represent potential new jobs for security integrators, and many of these applications are already underway. BP was the first company to obtain FAA approval to use drones to inspect the security of oil facilities in Alaska. The company uses remotely-controlled, 6-foot-long, fixed-wing Puma Aerovironment drones to conduct aerial surveys over BP’s Prudhoe Bay oil field on Alaska’s North Slope. Abu Dhabi and Gatwick, U.K., were the first to deploy drones to ensure onsite safety. In Gatwick, “Skyranger” drones equipped with high-definition cameras take snapshots and forward them to officers using portable consoles up to half a kilometer away. In Abu Dhabi, drone cameras are being used to assess and monitor accidents, provide information during search and rescue situations and gather information about approaching vessels or ships with sensitive cargos.
Today, we are talking about a single drone or a few drones providing additional security when integrated with existing systems. Future possibilities, enabled by rapidly advancing robotic and autonomous technologies, are almost endless.
Force Is With Them
New drone technologies can influence residential projects. Consider the following scenario that can occur in a matter of moments: In the early morning hours your client’s family is sound asleep. An intruder scales a fence at a remote area of the property, tripping a motion sensor. The motion sensor sends a signal to your drone security system, which automatically opens a door and launches a small security drone equipped with an infrared camera. The drone flies to the location of the tripped sensor and begins a thermal sweep of the area. The thermal image of the intruder is located by the sensor and quickly identified as a human by target recognition software. This information is relayed back to your security system’s command and control, triggering three alert signals: a call to local law enforcement, a house alert to arouse the family to the possible danger and a launch code to several other security drones which then fly to the location of the intruder to track and illuminate them with a blinding spotlight.
Sound like science fiction? The technology to integrate such a system already exists. In some future law enforcement applications, drones may be authorized to use non-deadly force against an intruder, such as the drone-mounted, 80,000V stun gun being tested by Texas-based Chaotic Moon Studios.
“If you imagine a S.W.A.T. raid and people running, why send officers, with guns blazing, down an alley way where they can shoot and harm an innocent person or whatever, when you could just have the drone autonomously follow them,” Chaotic Cofounder William Hurley told Fox News. North Dakota currently has a state house bill (No. 1328) that would allow its police departments to equip drones with nonlethal weapons such as Tasers, tear gas and rubber bullets.
Imagine in the not-too-distant future when all security cameras and security guards are replaced by a swarm of flying drones which are on continuous patrol while recording video sent to an automated system to detect, identify and respond to an intruder. The technology of swarming drones is here today. Although not yet commercially available, it has been demonstrated in laboratory and field tests.
Capitalizing on new drone surveillance may be a win-win for security integrators, improving the lives of customers by providing a more efficient, cost-effective system. Implementing drone security technology increases the security veil while reducing expenses associated with the inefficiencies of on-the-ground security personnel. Drone security systems will save time, money and lives. The only question is, are you ready for the drone revolution?
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