Showcasing FlytNow for remote drone operations at AUVSI Xponential 2019
With BVLOS capability at its core, FlytNow is built for subject matter experts, drone operations managers and UAV operators who wish to automate, simplify and scale their missions.
UAVs will create significant business value as soon as drone fleets can fly BVLOS. Technologists, regulators, business executives and drone operators all expect the industry to soon progress towards remote, autonomous, cloud-based drone operations across geographies, sectors, and use-cases.
To support the execution of such automated missions, and bring new insights to drone stakeholders, FlytBase is excited to launch FlytNow at AUVSI Xponential 2019 in Chicago!
FlytNow offers a wide range of features including connectivity and control over 4G/LTE/5G, live HD video feed, fleet management, unlimited missions and unlimited drone addition, remote gimbal control, pre-flight checklist and geofence, mission planner, cockpit view from web-dashboard, etc.
FlytNow is a hardware-agnostic solution that helps securely deploy industry-standard drones over the cloud, for BVLOS operations, using a mobile app (for DJI drones) or onboard SBCs (for Ardupilot and PX4 drones).
Add-ons like precision landing, fleet management, pilot team management and drone-in-a-box make FlytNow a powerful, affordable and scalable alternative to traditional, expensive, desktop-based GCS products.
Nitin Gupta, FlytBase CEO, commented, “With FlytNow, the power of autonomy is made available to drone operators, subject matter experts and service providers who can now seamlessly manage drones over 4G/5G networks, with best-in-class latency and live video quality.
As a SaaS product, this FlytBase offering helps our customers get started immediately, for free, and upgrade to the feature set that is best suited for their business needs.
Operators have used FlytNow in applications ranging from construction management and security/surveillance operations to emergency response and utility/asset inspections.”For a free trial, visit https://flytnow.com/ and get started in 5 easy steps - no credit card required.
About FlytBaseFlytBase is an enterprise drone automation company with a powerful platform to automate and scale drone applications. The software enables easy deployment of intelligent drone fleets, seamlessly integrated with cloud-based business applications.
FlytBase technology is compatible with all major drone and hardware platforms. As an IoT platform with enterprise-grade security and reliability, it suits a variety of commercial drone use-cases, powered by autonomy. To learn more about FlytNow, visit https://flytnow.com/, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
How Drones are Useful in Forest Fire Response
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are already in use for controlling fires in urban areas and places where people reside. These UAVs are usually quadcopters that are quite effective in hovering in one place.
In the event of a fire, the primary objective of using drones is to gather situational awareness, which can be used to direct the efforts of the firefighters in locating and controlling hot spots.Just like urban fires, forest fires to require monitoring so that firefighters know what they are dealing with.
Forest fires are different from urban fires; they are hard to control (sometimes cannot be controlled) and pose a greater threat to people and property. Here, drones can play a crucial role in detecting, containing, and extinguishing forest fires.
One example of drones being used to combat forest fires is that of California National Guards, who are using MQ-9 Reaper (military reconnaissance drones) to assist emergency responders in controlling forest fires.
They have already provided crucial assistance in massive forest fires, which include Mendocino Complex Fire and Carr Fire.Before we dive into how drones are used in this context, it is important to understand why they are used.
Why Drones are Used in Controlling Forest Fires?
In the event of a forest fire, time is of the essence. This is why it makes sense to use a drone for two primary purposes: initial detection and initial rescue. Here is a further breakdown:
- Drones can quickly be airborne, fly to a location, map the area affected by the fire, and share the information to all relevant agencies within a couple of minutes.
- A drone can carry a whole range of sensors, including a thermal camera that supports multiple color pallets. The combination of all these sensors provides a better picture of the spread and speed of the fire, which can help civil authorities to come up with a relief plan.
How Are Drones Used in Forest Fires?
Drones are useful especially in forest fires that are difficult to control. They are primarily used for collecting information and during post-incident recovery. Their usage can be explained as follows:
Information gathering: During a forest fire it is important for firefighters to know whether they are hitting the hot spots, which is difficult and dangerous for the ground crew since such fires tend to spread over a large area.Here drones carrying a thermal camera can do the job much more efficiently.
A pilot flying a drone can cover a large area and identify hot spots using the thermal camera. Thermal cameras like DJI Zenmuse XT offer multiple color palettes that can precisely identify hot and cold zones giving a better idea of the kind of temperatures the responders are dealing with.
Learn how DEEP (The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection) has been using drones to combat forest fires.
Aid and protection: Fighting any kind of fire is an occupational hazard for firefighters. But forest fires can move in any direction depending on the wind. This means a firefighter on the ground fighting a forest fire without the knowledge of the spread can easily get trapped.The footage captured by a drone can provide insights about the spread and direction of the fire. This information can protect firefighters from going too close to the inferno.
Terrain Mapping: Footage captured from a drone can be converted into a 3D map allowing civil authorities to ascertain the extent of the damage. This information is useful during post-incident relief work and for insurance companies to verify damage claims.
Real-time Awareness: Any kind of relief work requires resources, and for that situational awareness is required for planning. In 2018, wildfire threatened the town of Hechingen, Germany, which was facing severe drought and the water level dropped below 50%.The fire department of Hechingen was called in to control the blaze.
The fire was close to a remote country road far away from water sources and covered an area close to 5000 square meters. DJI M210 drones, with Zenmuse XT and X4S cameras, were put to the test and flown over the area to gather intelligence. Aerial imagery showed the firefighters the hot spots and the spread of the fire; accordingly, they planned to carry water, in fire engines, to the spot and control the blaze.
Thus, drones played an important role in providing intelligence for decision making.
How FlytNow Enhances the Capabilities of Drones Fighting Forest Fires
FlytNow is a cloud-based fleet management solution that provides a unified dashboard for managing a fleet of drones. The dashboard provides access to drone-mission planning, live telemetry, and video streams from all connected drones over a 4G/LTE/5G network. Below is an illustration of how the solution works.
How Drones are Connected to FlytNow?
FlytNow supports a wide variety of drones including the popular DJI Mavic and Matrice series of drones.Connecting a DJI drone is extremely simple; download and install the FlytOS mobile app and connect the mobile with the RC of the drone. The mobile application acts as a relay between the drone and the cloud application.
Live telemetry and the video feed are sent to the FlytNow cloud server over the mobile network.Custom drones also work with FlytNow by leveraging a single board computer (SBC). An SBC with the operating system is connected to the flight controller of the drone, which communicates with FlytNow either through Wifi or a GSM module.
Establishing a Localized Command Center Using FlytNow Business
FlytNow Business is a standard offering that comes with out of the box features. This solution is ideal for setting up a localized command center to manage drones working to bring a forest fire under control.
A forest fire can burn for days before it’s brought under control, so it becomes important for fire officials to stay close to the situation and monitor it. Following are the features that would allow firefighters to set up a command center and some ways they can be used:
- FlytNow Business can be accessed from a web browser. A firefighter with a laptop or a tablet can log in to the FlytNow dashboard and see the statuses of all connected drones. Like a command center, he/she can manage and control all drones from a single dashboard.
- FlytNow Business comes with an advanced mission planner that allows for setting up a flight path for a drone. Using the mission planner, a fire official can program a drone to fly over a defined perimeter and map it in order to understand the spread of the fire.
- It can stream live video and telemetry from all connected drones. Using this feature, a fire official can see the video feeds (at ultra-low latency) from all connected drones on the dashboard and even share them with various agencies either via email or using the built-in team management. This would allow for better coordination among different agencies.
- The dashboard supports multiple views for different kinds of operations. For example, in a UAV search and rescue operation, an operator can switch to the IR view to detect the heat signature of people trapped by the fire.
In the case of DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual and Matrice 210 V2 Dual, the dashboard supports MSX, which generates high contrast thermal images with lines and edges, and multiple color palettes including isotherms. Using the color palettes, a firefighter can identify hot and cold regions, which can aid in the identification of hot spots.
- FlytNow Business can be integrated with cloud servers like AWS S3 for the storage of video captured during firefighting operations. These videos can later be used for training purposes.
Establishing an Automated Drone Based Response System Using FlytNow Enterprise
FlytNow Enterprise is a customizable offering that includes all the features of the Business version plus additional features. It can be used to set up a fully automated response system that can be integrated with ground-based hardware (Drone-in-a-Box and charging pads) and computer-aided dispatch systems like 911. A system like this would function in the following way.
- An emergency operator receives a forest fire alert through the computer-aided dispatch system.
- The alert is routed to the nearby fire stations. A fire official logs in to the FlytNow dashboard and selects the alert, which pinpoints the fire’s location.
- The firefighter requests a drone recon over the area. The response system (powered by FlytNow Enterprise) automatically creates a mission and selects a nearby drone station ( Drone-in-a-Box hardware). FlytNow Enterprise supports all popular Drone-in-a-Box hardware.
- The drone receives the command and flies off autonomously. FlytNow Enterprise supports integration with UTM service providers like Airmap for airspace intelligence to support BVLOS flights.
- On reaching the location, the drone starts recording and sends out a live video feed for the firefighter to see.
- A firefighter has the option to use AI features like object detection to identify certain ground objects, for example, a hotspot.
- The drone continues the mission until its battery becomes low. It goes back to the station and lands on the DiaB hardware using the precision landing feature by FlytNow Enterprise.
- The solution makes it safe for the drone to fly autonomously with advanced failsafe that allows a drone to do an emergency landing in case of a hardware failure.
In this blog, we understood the importance of drones and how they are used in controlling forest fires. We discussed in detail the challenges that drones allow firefighters to overcome, and how FlytNow as a solution enhances the capabilities of drones.
You can implement FlytNow today with our 28 days free trial and see yourself how FlytNow can enhance your workflow with drones. Making the justification of using drones even stronger.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: How drones are used in forest fire?
A: Drones equipped with a thermal camera are used in a forest fire. They are primarily used for identifying hotspots and monitor the movement of the fire
Q: Can drones be used to eliminate forest fires completely?
A: Drones are not used to extinguish fires rather they are used to monitor the spread of the fire and identity hotspots. With this data, firefighters can better plan on how to control the fire and safeguard human establishments.
Q: How can drones be used for firefighting and what functionalities would be most useful?
A: Drones provide easy access to aerial data, which is used by firefighters to identify hotspots and map the spread of the fire. Drones equipped with a thermal camera is extensively used by firefighters.
Q: What is the main goal of a firefighting drone project?
A: One of the main goals of using drones in firefighting is to identify hotspots and map the spread of the fire.
Q: Are firefighter drones a good alternative to risking lives, or is it an unrealistic idea?
A: Drones cannot replace human firefighters. Instead, they are used as a tool for identifying hotspots and mapping the spread of a fire. Armed with this information, firefighters can better plan their efforts.
Drones Help Authorities & Businesses Fight COVID-19
Aerial Monitoring, Medical Delivery, Emergency Response
COVID-19 i.e. the coronavirus disease has been aptly called the Black Swan of 2020 - a global contagion that will disrupt public health and the global economy. With social distancing turning out to be insufficient, governments across the world are moving to comprehensive lockdowns, likely for weeks if not months, in order to ‘flatten the curve’ and get this pandemic under control.
In these trying times, each company is striving to do its part in helping their employees, partners and customers cope. FlytBase, for our part, is making FlytNow Pro available for free (until at-least May 31, 2020) for customers who seek to deploy drones as an aid to help control the virus.
Safety via Autonomy
The most powerful weapon in the battle against COVID-19 is avoiding human-to-human contact. Drones can thus serve us well - when used remotely and autonomously. Whether monitoring public spaces via live video feeds, delivering medicines to the last mile, or aiding public safety personnel during incident response, autonomous drones can help minimize human interactions while ensuring that food, medicines and help reach people on time.
Monitoring of Public Spaces
Across the world, national and local governments have rapidly started closing public spaces - train & bus terminals, schools, colleges, airports, parks, malls - and soon even commercial offices and retail shops. Unfortunately, there remains a need to monitor and enforce such shutdowns, since not all members of the public are diligently adhering to social distancing and self-quarantines.
Drones, equipped with payloads such as beacons, loudspeakers, and sirens, can thus serve as a public safety aid - sending live video feeds to COVID-19 control centers, warning people of the need to stay indoors, and perhaps even spraying disinfectants! Thermal cameras mounted on drones, and controlled remotely via FlytNow, can automatically identify crowds, which can then be quickly dispersed to minimize human-to-human transmission of the virus. Such low-latency video streams can be shared with stakeholders across geographies to help monitor the overall social situation and make informed decisions about shutdowns, crowd control and public safety.
Food & Medicine Delivery
With health workers directly exposed to the virus, drone service providers can use FlytNow to deliver medicines, first aid kits and other emergency supplies - to homes as well as hospitals. Via 4G connectivity, drones and their payloads can be remotely controlled - such missions can be planned and launched from cloud-based dashboards, accessible to multiple stakeholders. Live video streams in the FlytNow dashboard can help confirm medical deliveries, and the recipients can participate in flight planning and monitoring, in a remote yet secure manner.
At a time when supply chains are getting disrupted, remote and/or rural populations need to be proactively assisted with daily supplies. Drones are an ideal solution for this urgent need - via EVLOS and BVLOS operations that can be remotely planned, controlled and monitored using FlytNow. Even in urban areas, public health officials are strongly encouraging e-commerce and delivery of daily provisions, instead of people visiting supermarkets, restaurants and pharmacies.
First responders, whether police, firefighters or health workers, now need to be themselves protected against the virus during incident response. Sending drones before people must become an integral part of such operations - powered by FlytNow capabilities such as fleet management, precision landing, autonomous charging, video recording, dual-camera feeds and airspace compliance.
With the pandemic expected to last a while, public safety officials will have to plan for emergency response (with minimal involvement of humans) during floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters.
FlytBase, Inc. salutes and wishes well, all those involved in this mammoth exercise - our doctors, nurses, aid workers, public servants, first responders, and many other selfless and brave volunteers. We are keen to do our part by leveraging autonomous drone technology to mitigate the adverse effects of the novel coronavirus.
Get started with FlytNow Pro for free, to help your employees, customers, partners and the general public tackle COVID-19 safely.
Empowering First Responders with Autonomous Drones for Public Safety and Emergency Response
Tyler, Texas-based Phirst Technologies, LLC - a technology-led, public safety solutions provider - is an early adopter of autonomous drone fleets for emergency response.
This is indicative of the increasing adoption of UAVs by public safety agencies, police & fire departments, emergency operations centers and other stakeholders for disaster monitoring, real-time situational awareness, search & rescue missions, firefighting, law enforcement surveillance, and other use-cases.
At AUVSI Xponential 2019 in Chicago, Phil Baker (Founder-CEO at Phirst Technologies and CEO of Genesis Group) shared his experience in integrating autonomous drones into 911 emergency operations in the US. Phil’s company has launched FIRST iZ - a drone-centric ‘First Eyes for First Responders’ offering for Public Safety Access Points (PSAPs).
As Phil B. puts it, “FIRST iZ™ is a drone system programmed to autonomously fly to incidents at 60+ mph, send live video while in transit, sniff for hazardous gases, hover while still sending live video, and allow commanders to know what they are facing before they dispatch vehicles and people.”
FlytBase is proud to provide the drone automation technology that powers FIRST iZ and enables drone public safety missions, seamlessly integrated into, and managed via, a unified operations dashboard for 911 dispatchers.
The key to emergency response is how fast the central command center, and first responders, can gain situational awareness of an incident, allocate the optimal resources, and rapidly deploy them on site. Phil B. shares his experience in how autonomous drones, powered by intelligent software, can reduce this time by up to an order of magnitude, thereby potentially saving thousands of lives.
Drones for emergency services have been in the news in recent years - supporting disaster management during hurricanes and floods, when aerial search and rescue is often the only viable option. The next logical step in deploying drones for public safety is to install fleets of autonomous drones ‘in a box’ at strategic locations in populated areas, ready to support police, fire, disaster recovery and other emergency services at a moment’s notice.
Low-latency, real-time HD video feeds, combined with remote gimbal control, turn out to be a crucial capability in drone solutions for incident response - by providing timely, relevant input to decision-makers at centralized operations centers. Similarly, cloud-based fleet management and intelligent path planning help public safety chiefs and UAV program managers schedule, execute and repeat autonomous missions as part of a larger automation-led surveillance operation.
As for the pace of adoption of drone automation across the entire public safety sector, FIRST iZ is a bet by Phirst Technologies on the confluence of a) legal and regulatory tail-winds and b) drone hardware and software technology advancements. While technology leads the two today, Phil expects regulators (eg. FAA) to turn even more supportive of drone programs that benefit society at large - especially those that are security and privacy conscious, well thought out and diligently documented, and driven by reliable technology.
How Low Cost Prosumer Drones can be used for Aerial Security & Surveillance?
As automation technology is adopted for industrial and commercial security, drone fleets will play a central role, given that they can be deployed autonomously, at scale. As UAV regulations mature, security agencies, in particular, are expected to rapidly adopt drones to substantially reduce their operating costs, improve perimeter coverage & awareness, and equally important to minimize occupational, health & safety risks to human guards.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can be deployed in a multitude of 24/7 security and surveillance use-cases - the pace of which is determined by the intensity of user/customer pain points - such as high turnover of security guards, operations at night and in hostile scenarios, surveillance of hard-to-reach locations, liabilities associated with human and helicopter patrols, CCTV blind spots, need for real-time situational awareness in emergencies, etc.
The time for aerial security is now ripe because the prosumer drone market has matured so rapidly in the last few years that commercial-off-the-shelf drones can be used commercially, instead of (expensive, monolithic, low reliability) custom drones, in all but the most demanding security and surveillance use-cases.
Opportunity in Commercial Security Sector
For drones, the opportunity in the commercial security sector is of the order of US$1B per year in the coming decade. While nearly 70% of the top security firms are keen to adopt - or already use - drones in their operations during 2019, much of this remains ad-hoc and manual. It is worthwhile to note that this segment remains fragmented, with startups as well as large corporations pursuing the segment with a mix of hardware, software and services offerings.
However, there remain certain factors critical to the large-sale deployment of autonomous drones for security and surveillance applications. The journey from the ‘early adopter’ phase to the ‘early majority’ phase of the adoption curve for drone deployments in industrial & commercial security will require:
- Reliable, off-the-shelf hardware
- Cloud-based, hardware-agnostic software
- Faster time-to-value, driven by low capex and seamless integration.
Nitin Gupta, FlytBase CEO, commented, “The physical security market is primed for drone automation and scaling - the time, cost and safety benefits of autonomous drone fleets can create significant business value for this industry.
Drone patrols will augment human guards and enable security agencies, risk managers, security directors, system integrators and other stakeholders to make faster, better decisions for real-time incident response, remote security operations, event management, disaster response and more.”
The ‘Drones in Security & Surveillance’ white paper can be downloaded, for free, from http://bit.ly/flytgcs-security - no signup required!
How can drones be easily, quickly adopted for security use-cases?
FlytBase offers a 28-day free trial for users to explore FlytNow Business edition and its relevance to specific use-cases for security stakeholders.
Customers can add their drone fleets, fly them autonomously, create flight plans & coordinate missions, set geo-fence and checklists, view and store live video footage and integrate drone operations into an existing system.
Drones For Security: How Drones Augment Traditional Security Systems?
The need for security and surveillance - whether residential or commercial - continues to steadily increase in a world of increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. Privacy, not just security is becoming as much of a concern - with technology playing a central role on both fronts i.e. in violation of privacy and in the provision of security. This is where drones for security come in, powered by reliable hardware and intelligent software.
Traditional security systems (human guards, CCTV cameras, locks, access control systems, etc.) continue to prevail amongst security and surveillance providers. However, new technologies ranging from drones and robots to biometrics, AI and cyber-security have started to capture a larger share of the market.
These technologies offer a range of benefits - automation, scalability, remote management, auditability, cost-effectiveness, reliability, mass customization and so on.
Use of Security Drones
Unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e. drones) are already part of the most advanced home and office security systems, with a fleet of drones programmed to launch from their nests, run repeated missions, capture aerial footage of the assets being secured, and return to their nests to charge and prepare for the next mission.
By augmenting, if not replacing, human guards and static CCTVs, these ‘eyes in the sky’ can offer faster response to incidents, real-time situational awareness to the central command, live video feeds to remote stakeholders, and even serve as a deterrence to unfriendly elements.
Demand for Drones in Security & Surveillance applications
While regulation remains a challenge for outdoor operations such as aerial security and surveillance using drones, technology has advanced enough to enable drone-in-a-box security systems. These include not just drones, but also autonomous charging pads, weather-proof docking stations, intelligent automation via software, cloud connectivity and live remote operations.
The key to large-scale adoption of such drone surveillance systems is their cost-effectiveness; which in turn requires the use of off-the-shelf drone hardware and SaaS-enabled solutions that minimize the upfront capital expenditure.
Importance of UAV for Residential & Commercial Security
Residential security drones have made the news in recent years, but it is industrial and commercial security systems that are seeing faster adoption. This is driven not only by enterprise initiatives in security automation but also by the rapidly increasing costs of human guards for drone security system providers, made worse by constant employee turnover.
By putting equipment, instead of humans, at risk of harm in case of adverse incidents, aerial surveillance drones minimize risk and enable better-informed decisions during security events.
The best surveillance drones can, in fact, be rapidly sent to a location of interest, using GPS navigation and 4G/5G connectivity, to immediately stream live video feeds and even carry payloads such as sirens or warning lights. With thermal and IR cameras easily available, night-time drone patrols and alarms can be an integral part of aerial home/office surveillance systems.
Autonomous UAV Security & Surveillance Solution
Autonomy is - of course - the key to drones for security, since having human operators involved in UAV surveillance can not only add to the cost, but also introduce the risk of errors, or worse, loss of integrity of security operations. Software-driven automation of drones is thus driving their adoption for home security as well as industrial perimeter security.
By defining specific points of interest, ideal schedules, and waypoint-wise camera action, such autonomous UAV security systems can be programmed to operate reliably and continuously and can be rapidly deployed across large swathes of residential or commercial areas. Automatic obstacle detection, collision avoidance and precision landing capabilities further expand the use-cases for drones in this context.
Making Drones Smarter for Security Solutions
By incorporating AI/ML techniques, image processing, and machine vision, drone security systems can even recognize things, track-and-follow intruders, and automatically identify objects that post threats.
The physical size and weight of drones are reducing rapidly as the technology matures; such drones can make hard-to-reach locations easily accessible - and make harsh environments more secure - without putting humans at risk of harm.
Aerial video surveillance is thus turning out to be the next frontier for the security industry, powered by autonomous drone fleets that are intelligent, cloud-connected and remotely managed.
How can drones be easily, quickly adopted for security use-cases?
FlytBase offers a 28-day free trial for users to explore FlytNow Pro edition and its relevance to specific use-cases for security stakeholders. Customers can add their drone fleets, fly them autonomously, create flight plans & coordinate missions, set geo-fence and checklists, view and store live video footage and integrate drone operations into an existing system.
Drones for Public Safety: A Definitive Guide
Drone as a technology has come a long way, especially when it comes to adoption by state and local government agencies, and public safety officials. In the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, drones have proven to be quite an effective tool in the fight against COVID-19; especially in countries like China and India.
We are witnessing a widespread adoption of drones across different use cases, and public safety is one such application that has yielded significant social and public health benefits. One such example is how drones saved the lives of 279 people, as shared by DJI at AirWorks2019.
The total global number is, of course, orders of magnitude more, given the increasingly common use of drones for disaster monitoring, emergency response, search-and-rescue, etc. In the US, law enforcement agencies are rapidly adopting UAV technology for the following reasons:
- Drones provide better accessibility to places that are dangerous for humans.
- Drones are ideal for capturing video evidence in the form of aerial footage, thus freeing up valuable manpower that can be deployed elsewhere.
- Drones are an effective tool in search and rescue operations since they can cover large swathes of land in relatively less time.
- Drones can provide real-time situational awareness in delicate incidents such as hostage situations.
- Armed with different payloads and sensors, drones can keep an eye on groups of people involved in suspicious activities.
In a study conducted by Bard College, they concluded that 910 state and local law enforcement agencies across the USA have incorporated drones as part of their operations. It is safe to say that drones will play a growing role in public safety and emergency response.
Drones as first responders refer to the deployments of drone fleets that reach the site of emergency first, even before human responders. Drones are turning out to be perfect first responders for the following reasons:
- They are fast, agile, and nimble and can reach a location quickly. By doing so they can provide critical, real-time support. Researchers at Tu Delft have come up with the concept of a drone ambulance where a drone carrying an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) can fly to a person suffering from a cardiac arrest and provide time-critical medical support.
- Drones can aid human responders by going to an emergency situation first, assessing it, and sending information back, and based on which human responders can better prepare for the situation.
- First-responder applications require the management of a fleet of drones.
- Public safety use-cases may require autonomous drone flights in order to minimize the reliance on human pilots.
- Emergencies may happen in remote areas and hence require beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) capabilities.
- Being an aircraft, each drone must respect airspace management rules and regulations so that there is no conflict with manned aircraft or other aerial vehicles.
Such capabilities are available in FlytNow, a robust drone automation platform that supports drone fleet management, BVLOS operations, and third-party integration with UTM service providers for airspace intelligence. FlytBase customers are already using FlytNow to power their first responder systems.
A Texas, US company called Phirst Technologies has developed a solution called First iZ using FlytNow to deploy a fleet of drones via the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system that powers the 911 emergency services in the US. The system works by allowing a 911 operator to dispatch drones from a unified dashboard to gather situational awareness on an emergency situation, and thus assisting human responders before and after they arrive.
This refers to the operating software that goes into a companion computer which is then integrated with the flight controller of a drone. The software acts as the brain and keeps the drone connected with the fleet management system at the base station. FlytNow Business/Enterprise comes with its own ‘edge level’ software (FlytOS) that provides the following capabilities:
- BVLOS or EVLOS operations over 4G/LTE/5G networks.
- Precision landing and hover features that can be used to land a drone on a charging pad (see FlytDock).
- Collision avoidance, a critical feature in BVLOS flights (see FlytCAS).
- Remote control of payload attachments and camera gimbal.
A ‘drones as the first responder’ system requires the support of ground-based hardware like charging pads, launch systems, etc. The hardware is required to automate the launch of a drone and putting a drone to charging mode when it returns from a mission. FlytNow offers integration with third-party DiaB hardware from some of the following solution providers:
- Airscort (https://www.airscort.me/)
- Skysense (https://www.skysense.co)
- WiPo Wireless Solution (https://www.wipo-wirelesspower.com/)
- WiBotic (https://www.wibotic.com/)
The integration capabilities of FlytNow combined with smart automation has enabled Phirst Technologies to deliver a public safety solution using drones (First iZ). One of the unique capabilities of the First iZ system is that it can send a drone to a location and capture the required data autonomously; this wouldn’t be possible without FlytNow’s support for ground-based hardware.BVLOS flights in remote, rural areas must be enabled by a first responder system.
When conducting BVLOS drone flights, it is important that they don’t interfere with manned-aircrafts or break static, as well as dynamic, airspace norms. Such airspace intelligence is usually available from UTM service providers, whose solutions can be seamlessly integrated into FlytNow so that operators can conduct safe and legal flights. Note: Read about the partnership between FlytNow and Airmap.
Depending on the situation, drones require specific payloads to get the job done. For example, in a search and rescue mission, a drone may use an IR sensor to locate the missing person. Such payloads and sensors can be remotely controlled via FlytNow, including:|
- IR Sensor: Commonly known as a thermal camera that captures infrared radiation.
- Loudspeakers: Useful in making announcements and riot control.
- Spotlights: An important attachment for search and rescue.
- Beacons: Such devices are used to make a drone visible from the ground in low light.
"How to Quickly Demo First Response System Using FlytNow Pro"
Step-1: As someone who is looking for a solution for a quick PoC. You need to first sign up for our 28 days free trial from https://app.flytnow.com/\
Step-3: This is an optional step. If you don’t have real drones then you can use our virtual drone. Your FlytBase free account comes with one free virtual drone that you can add by following this guide.
Step-4: A mission is a set of instructions that tells a drone where to go and how to go. In the context of a first response system, the feature can be used to tell a drone to visit a location and investigate why there’s an emergency. Go to the MISSION tab from the dashboard and click on Add Mission.
Give a name to your mission and click on Add Waypoint. By using the drop pins you can create a route to any location. While defining a route you can limit the speed and altitude. When creating a route, you can also define a finish action that tells a drone what to do when reaching a location. Currently, there are three options in the system:
- Return to Home
Step-5: Set up a geofence, which defines a drone’s area of operation. In FlytNow Pro, a geofence is a circular region within which a drone can fly. A first response system is more likely to function within a specific region and a geofence is a perfect feature to define that region. Follow this guide to create a geofence.
Note: A drone cannot fly beyond its defined geofence. In the enterprise version, polygon geofence is supported. Step-6: Create Pre-flight Checklist items. FlytNow comes with a list of items that you have to check before executing a mission. The checklist serves to remind you of the important things that you have to keep in mind before sending a drone out for a mission. You can add items to the checklist by going to the CHECKLIST tab -> Add to Checklist.
6 Reasons to Use FlytNow to Automate Drones for Perimeter Security
The threat from physical intrusion still remains one of the top concerns in both commercial and non-commercial contexts. According to a report from Markets and Markets, the video surveillance market, which includes both hardware and software, is presently at USD 45.5 billion and expected to reach USD 74.6 billion by 2025.
Over the years, there have been many advancements in optics and detection systems but limitations still exist in the conventional ways of using them. To overcome these limitations, security stakeholders are now incorporating drone technology in their operations.
In this blog, we will talk about drones and the FlytNow solution for perimeter security.
What is perimeter security?
Perimeter security is an active barrier or fortification around a defined area to prevent all forms of intrusion. Modern security systems are an amalgamation of sophisticated hardware and software that generally include cameras, motion sensors, electric fencing, high-intensity lights, and a command center to manage them all.
Challenges with conventional security systems (without drones) for perimeter security
Below are some of the drawbacks and limitations that are inherent in a conventional security system:
- CCTV cameras and motion detectors are stationary, thus leaving plenty of room for blind spots.
- Patrolling requires human guards - for larger areas, this is the least efficient way of securing a premise.
- Response to an intrusion is delayed since a human responder has to reach the location.
Benefits of using drones for perimeter security
Drones have the following advantages over a conventional security system:
- Drones are mobile flying machines that can go to any location quickly, with HD camera(s), thus eliminating blind spots.
- Drones can also be equipped with a thermal camera(s) which are useful during nighttime surveillance.
- Drones can be automated for patrolling using the FlytNow cloud-connected solution and commercially available DiaB (Drone in a Box) hardware.
Note: A DiaB is box-like hardware that houses one or more drones. The hardware keeps the drone flight-ready (24x7) and also automates the launching and docking processes of a drone.
Drones automation for security
For perimeter security, drones are generally used in conjunction with Drone-in-a-Box hardware and a fleet management system that powers the command center.
Other security system hardware, including CCTV cameras, motion sensors, etc. can complement the drones and can be connected to the command center, thus integrating into a complete system. In a real-life scenario, such a system might work in the following way:
- An intrusion is detected by one of the CCTV cameras in an area under surveillance.
- The command center receives the alert and initiates a drone launch.
- A connected DiaB receives the launch request and releases a drone.
- The drone flies to the location where the intrusion was detected and begins streaming a live video feed.
- An operator maneuvers the drone to cover all blind spots.
- On finding the intruder, the operator has the option to warn him/her about the transgression using the drone’s onboard payload such as a beacon, spotlight, speaker, etc.
To know about the kind of drones and sensors that can be used for security and surveillance operations please refer to our Drone Surveillance System: The Complete Setup Guide.
How FlytNow enabled perimeter security?
FlytNow is a cloud-based application that helps in managing and controlling a fleet of drones from a unified dashboard through automation, live data streaming and integration. In the context of perimeter security, this translates into a command center that connects drones with the traditional components of a perimeter security system.
6 Reasons to use FlytNow for perimeter security
#1 Easy Setup: FlytNow is cloud-hosted i.e. a user can access the application from any standard web browser, without any complicated server setup. Connecting the drones with the system is also easy and is done using FlytOS.
#2 Unified Dashboard: FlytNow features an advanced dashboard that shows the following:
- A live map showing the real-time location of all the drones. The map can be customized to show points of interest, and virtual geofence, and CCTV zones.
- On-screen GUI controllers and keyboard & mouse support to control a drone. This allows an operator to easily maneuver a drone to a point of interest from the command center.
- Multicam support that allows streaming video feeds from more than one drone.
- Different view modes that allow an operator to switch between RGB and thermal mode. In the thermal mode, there is the option to switch between different color pallets, allowing a user to identify warm objects against different backdrops.
- Pre-flight checklist which is a list of checks the system prompts an operator to perform before initiating a drone launch.
#3 Live Data Sharing: An operator can share the live video feed from a drone directly from the dashboard. The feature can be used to share video with the police or other remote stakeholders.
#4 Advanced Automation: Operating drones through manual control is quite an inefficient way to use drones. Instead, automation should be employed to perform activities like security patrols. FlytNow comes with an advanced mission planner that allows a user to define a path for a drone to follow and save it as a mission. The mission can be executed periodically, thus making a fleet of drones perform automated patrolling.
#5 Add-on Modules: FlytNow provides add-ons to make a drone intelligent; this includes precision landing over a computer-generated tag, obstacle detection, and object identification. These add-ons enable a drone to autonomously fly to a location, identify a threat, and return to the DiaB hardware.
#6 Drone-in-a-Box Hardware Support: The functions of DiaB hardware, in the context of perimeter security, can be broadly classified into four categories:
- Securely house a drone.
- Keeping the drone fully charged all the time.
- Initiate a drone launch.
- Successfully dock a returning drone.
In this blog, we discussed the concept of perimeter security, the limitations of conventional security set up, and how these limitations can be overcome using drones. Then we covered how drones are actually used for aerial patrols and 6 reasons why FlytNow is an ideal solution for automating drones for perimeter security.
There are plenty more reasons to use FlytNow for perimeter security that you can find out by signing for our 7 days free trial.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: How Drones add a new dimension to perimeter security?
A: Drones are mobile flying machines that can go anywhere. Thus they eliminate blind spots. In the event of an intrusion, a drone can apprehend an intruder real-time fast and send footage realtime to remote viewers.
Q: What impact can drones have on the security industry?
A: Drones have pushed the technology bounds of the security industry. They are making security systems smart and robust, which can tackle all forms of threats.
Q: What are the Uses of drones for perimeter security?
A: Drones are used in conjunction with CCTV cameras and other sensors to apprehend intruders fast and send real-time feedback to remote viewers.
Q: Can we use drone for remote surveillance security purposes?
A: Drones can be remotely controlled using a fleet management system like FlytNow. Such a system allows a user to manage and control multiple drones from a unified dashboard remotely. The user even has access to the live video feed.
Drones for Law Enforcement: Benefits and Use Cases
Drones are bringing in a revolution in public safety in the same way that technologies like body-cams have done in the past. They are making incident response operations not only safe and effective but also remotely visible and manageable. In a study conducted by the Bard Institute, it was found that 910 state and local law enforcement personnel in the US have used drones for law enforcement or any other public safety operations.
How Drones are Being Used by Law Enforcers
In a 2018 guide from policeone.com, a survey was conducted asking more than 200 police officers in the US about how their respective departments are using UAVs. Below are the top findings:
- 83% of the respondents said that UAVs were used for search and rescue.
- 79% said that UAVs were used for disaster management.
- 76% said that UAVs were used for SWAT operations.
- 71% said that UAVs were used for monitoring crime and traffic.
Image Source: https://www.policeone.com/
In the same survey, it was also found that drones from DJI were mostly preferred.
Benefits of Using Drones in Law Enforcement
Drones are being rapidly adopted by various law enforcement agencies throughout the world because of the following advantages:
- Drones are ideal first responders: Drones are faster than conventional vehicles when used as first responders. They can reach a location within minutes after receiving an emergency request, and aerially assess the situation before human responders arrive.
- Drones are a cost-effective way to conduct aerial surveillance: The conventional method of deploying a manned helicopter is expensive and time-consuming, and may not be suitable for situations that require an immediate response.
- Drones can potentially save lives: Drones can be equipped with various attachments depending on the task; these payloads can be controlled by a single officer from a safe distance. This is useful in dangerous situations like counter-insurgency, hostage rescue, car-chase, etc. where a police officer can engage a perpetrator from a safe distance without risking the officer’s life. In a recent event, AirWorks 2019, DJI has announced that 279 lives were saved by using drones in various emergency operations.
- Drones are a potent public safety tool: Drones can cover a large area easily, and they can be equipped with thermal sensors. These make them effective in search and rescue operations.
What Kind of Drones are Used for Law Enforcement?
From our interactions with public safety users, we found that drones for public safety solution can be equipped with thermal sensors and a camera with high zoom capability are most preferred for first responder operations.Both off-the-shelf and custom drones are used for police operations, such as:
What Kind of Payloads are Used for Incident Response Drones?
Drones give people access to the sky, and an aerial view of the activities happening on the ground, especially via payloads that are integrated with commercial drones. Here are some payloads that are used for police and public safety operations:
- Optical sensors: In the context of drone technology, these are devices that can record high definition videos, some examples include:
- Zenmuse Z30 is a camera from DJI that has a 30X zoom, which can be helpful in operations involving surveillance and tracking.
- Zenmuse X5S is another capable camera from DJI that can easily shoot 4K videos.
- Thermal sensors: These are devices that can render infrared radiation, which is not visible to the eyes, into visible colors. Various shades of blue and red are used to denote a range of temperatures. Some of the popular payloads include:
- DJI Zenmuse XT
- FLIR Vue Pro
- FLIR Duo Pro
- FLIR Tau 2 To know about the factors to consider when selecting a thermal camera for a commercial drone application, read this blog.
- Loudspeakers: Large drones are capable of carrying loudspeakers, which can be used for making announcements and for crowd control.
- Spotlights: These are important payloads for night-time or low visibility operations, especially for search and rescue missions.
- Beacons: Beacons help drones to stay visible in the sky especially during night time, thus warning others of their presence.
How FlytNow Business Enables Drones for Law Enforcement
FlytNow is a cloud-based drone fleet management solution that can be used to deploy an effective first responder system, where drones are controlled and managed from a unified dashboard.
The solution leverages 4G/LTE/5G networks for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) or Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS) flights and for the streaming of high definition (HD) quality videos. Below is an illustration of how the system works:
The following features of FlytNow can enable drone for law enforcement for officials in the following ways:Live video monitoring: A drone connected to the Flytnow system can send high quality, live video feed directly to the cloud dashboard; from there, an operator has the option to share the stream with multiple, remote stakeholders.
This feature played a crucial role during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown in India. A startup called Dronelab with the help from volunteers and the police flew drones all over Ahmedabad (an Indian city in the state of Gujarat) and streamed their video feed directly onto the FlytNow dashboard at the central control room.
This allowed the authorities to keep a watchful eye for people breaking social distancing norms, or violating the lockdown imposed by the government.
“According to Nikhil Methiya, Director of Dronelab, The “FlytNow solution has played an important role in our operations to mitigate the public health impact of COVID-19. It allowed us to deploy drones at scale, and features like live video streaming and guest-sharing helped us fulfill our aerial monitoring objectives while keeping the necessary authorities in the loop.”
Thermal Camera Integration: Thermal sensors are useful in missions like search and rescue, night-time surveillance, firefighting, etc. With FlytNow, remote drone operators can stream thermal feeds from multiple drones and gain better situational awareness of an evolving situation, and thus assist ground operators in real-time.
Remote Control: A single operator can use the FlytNow dashboard to control multiple drones, including the camera gimbal of each drone. Such a capability is quite useful in operations that require the coverage of a large area from multiple perspectives; for example, search and rescue, surveillance, manhunt, etc.
Map Annotation and Video Archive: An operator using the FlytNow dashboard has access to a map with the real-time location of all drones connected to the system. During a mission, the operator can pin crucial information captured by a drone directly onto the map.
The feature is useful to highlight evidence or other important details during aerial missions.The cloud-connected platform supports the storage of video in a secure, external, public/private cloud server, so that videos captured during a mission can be reliably archived.
Intelligent Mission Planning: A mission is a set of instructions that tells a drone how to reach a location and what to do once it reaches the location. This feature can be used to dispatch drones to a particular location in the event of an emergency.
Phirst Technologies, a US-based company, developed a solution called First iZ using FlytBase & FlytNow, which integrates with the CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) system to power the 911 service in Tyler, Texas, US. The solution allows 911 operators to remotely dispatch drones as first responders, to an emergency site, from a unified dashboard. Read the full case study.
Hardware Agnostic Platform: Drones are like tools; depending on the task, different kinds of drones are required for police activities. FlytNow as a platform is hardware agnostic since it supports both off-the-shelf, as well as custom drones based on PX4 and Ardupilot autopilots.
In this blog, we learned the benefits of using drones for law enforcement and public safety. We also covered what kind of drones and payloads are suitable for police and first responder operations, and how FlytNow enhances such operations.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. Can law enforcement agencies use drones?
Ans: Yes! Drones are already in use by law enforcement agencies. In a study conducted by the Bard Institute, it was found that more than 300 state and local law enforcement officials are already using UAVs in some way or the other.
Q2. Can law enforcement fly UAV over private property?
Ans: The ownership of the airspace above a private property generally ends beyond 50 feet. So any licensed drone can fly at that height over any property. Still, the intricacies of the law will defer from country to country.
Q3. How drones can be deployed by law enforcement agencies?
Ans: Drones can be deployed in the traditional sense, where a pilot in the field operates a drone via an RC close to the scene of action. But the modern approach leverages the cloud infrastructure to deploy drones from a base station without human intervention. The entire operation is controlled using a fleet management system that provides a unified dashboard and integration with response systems like the 911.
How Can Autonomous Drones Create Business Value For Aerial Inspections?
Cell-towers, wind turbines, power lines, and almost all infrastructural assets that one can think of, require regular and time-intensive inspections. Generally carried out by humans alone, these inspections are expensive, often full of errors and provide limited analysis & insights about the asset.
Would it not be better if, instead of a technician climbing up a chimney or wind turbine, we simply used an autonomous drone to beam footage to an experienced inspector? Or better still, enhance that device with visual and data analytics capabilities and make it assess the asset's status and maintenance needs automatically.
It was found that, till 2017, up to 85% of asset-based inspections still depended entirely on human effort. By the end of 2018, roughly 60% of all such inspections saw the entry of software-driven drones within their routine inspection processes. Drone-based inspection turns out to be significantly faster, cheaper, more reliable and most importantly error-free. As per a report by Roland Berger, drone-based asset inspections can create savings between 50% and 90% while inspecting facilities like oil rigs and wind turbines.
Why are conventional, manual inspections unsafe, expensive and inefficient?
Conventional techniques employed for infrastructure and asset inspections are phasing out due to multiple deficiencies:
- Human technicians are expensive, hard to find, and often prone to errors
- Major utilities inspection are extremely time intensive and largely inefficient
- Hard to reach areas and inaccessible inspection points negatively affect the accuracy
- Human risk factors involved are very high in the case of wind turbines and power lines
- Manual inspections require prolonged shut-down time which decreases productivity
- Subject-matter experts are remotely located and often unable to participate in real-time
- Regulatory requirements are unmet due to poor repeatability of inspection missions
How can autonomous drones enable reliable, repeatable aerial inspections?
FlytNow-enabled drones can address the above pain points as follows:
- Cost-effective, off-the-shelf drones can be made to fly autonomously from a remote location with the flying path designed to comprehensively cover the inspection premises.
- Live HD video feed can be obtained onto desktops, laptops, tablets or mobile phones from the cloud, over 4G/5G connected networks with minimal latency.
- Drone operators, facility managers, auditors, and inspection experts can assess the structure/asset remotely, from all the possible viewing angles, thereby reducing human risk factors.
- Automated aerial inspections can reduce expenditure on manual technicians by up to 90% and increase accuracy and efficiency by up to 8 times.
- Real-time situational data and live video feed about accidents, mishaps, and critical failures can be broadcasted to the control room, emergency center, hospitals or police station at once.
- Drones require minimal downtime of high-value assets, as they operate subtly causing less interference to on-going operations.
What infrastructure & asset inspections are autonomous drones being used for?
Inspectable assets fall under one of these categories:
- Mining & Aggregate
- Oil & Gas
They can further be broken down into structures like cell towers, power lines, power substations, wind turbines, gas pipelines, oil refineries, aggregate facilities, storage tanks, bridges, etc.
Drones inspection can benefit each of these facilities at a fraction of the regular cost. With FlytNow acting as remote command center for drone fleet operations, inspectors get real-time, remote drone control and can make them hover precisely where required.
Drones then relay live telemetry and HD video onto the stakeholders’ laptops/mobiles/tablets, as well as allow remote gimbal control, from a safe distance, through a 4G/LTE/5G network to capture high-quality images and video for manual and automated analysis.
Subject matter experts, inspection executives, safety heads and risk managers can thus make informed decisions based on qualitative and quantitative data and initiate faster corrective responses, and thus minimize human risk, inspection costs and process time.More details about how drone operators are using FlytNow for inspections? Click here.
How can drones be easily, quickly adopted for inspection use-cases?
FlytBase offers a 28-day free trial for users to explore FlytNow Business edition and its relevance to specific use-cases for inspection stakeholders.
Customers can add their drone fleets, fly them autonomously, create flight plans & coordinate missions, set geo-fence and checklists, view and store live video footage and integrate drone operations into existing asset management systems.