Autonomous Tethered Drone Solution Developed for Law Enforcement

By Mike Ball / 30 Aug 2020
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Axon and Fotokite tethered drone system for law enforcement

Public safety technology provider Axon has partnered with tethered UAS (unmanned aerial systems) solutions developer Fotokite to provide a new solution for law enforcement applications. The Axon Air program is based around Fotokite’s Sigma UAS, and also makes use of Axon’s digital evidence management solution, Axon Evidence, and Fotokite’s situational awareness software tools. Users will be able to view live-streamed footage as well as manage and share video evidence.

Actively tethered drones such as Fotokite’s Sigma UAS provide a variety of advantages over regular drones, including increased safety and resource savings due to the use of autonomous tethered flight. Such drones are permitted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be operated without additional waivers or pilot license requirements, with no piloting needed for operations taking place up to 150 feet above ground level. With a full weather-proof rating and power and data delivery over the tether, the Fotokite Sigma can fly in harsh weather conditions and stay airborne for more than 24 hours of continuous flight.

Other features of the new Axon Air system include:

Evidence Management: Fotokite video footage is integrated directly into Axon Evidence, providing agencies with an overall view of what is happening in a given incident/investigation without needing to use an alternate application or tool to view the aerial footage.
Live-streaming: Command center operatives can see what is happening in the field in real-time through Axon Aware situational awareness software, enabling them to deploy resources more quickly and efficiently.
Program Management: With no requirements for federal Part 107 (drone pilot) licenses or a Certificate of Authorization (COA) from the FAA, agencies can save time and money.
Scalable Aerial Situational Awareness: Traditional drone programs require public safety teams to call trained pilot teams to each scene they are deployed in. As a result, response times are slowed down by the availability of pilots on-scene. Fotokite technology enables scalable aerial scene awareness without the need for pilots on-scene, providing law enforcement with the ability to gain instant situational awareness and incident records early in a response, when it matters most.

Jeff Kunins, Axon CPO and EVP of Software, commented: “This partnership with Fotokite is a game-changer for how our law enforcement customers view, assess and respond to crisis situations in real time. This program will be a great addition for agencies with already existing drone programs as it allows for a greater breadth of incident coverage. For agencies that have not yet deployed a drone program, this a great and simple way to get started.”

Christopher McCall, Fotokite CEO, said: “We’re thrilled to partner exclusively with Axon in delivering a purpose-built tool to first responders in the public safety community. Our actively tethered UAS technology will directly serve Axon’s customers with the integrated product they need. Whether the use case is traffic control, vehicular accident scene management, search and rescue or routine patrol, users can simply press one button to receive a live-streamed bird’s eye view of an incident.”

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact