Tuesday 14 March 2017

The Police Officer with a Flying Camera

I’ll run the scenario, then break it down.

‘’A Police Officer responds on a blue light to an emergency, ‘violent male in local park’.  Officer is single crewed and first on the scene.

On the Officer’s vehicle dashboard, a button labelled ‘Drone Follow Me’ which gets a tap as the officer exits the vehicle.

On the roof of the Patrol Car a lid opens, the ‘flying camera’ drone with rotors spinning rises in the air.

Posts in the Police Drone Series
  • The Bobby on the Beat versus The Drone - 9 March 17
  • The UK Police and Fire Drone Resource Page - 13 March 17
  • The Police Officer with a Flying Camera - 15 March 17
It takes a few seconds before the drone finds and follows the Officer, who is now running towards a park bench 50 metres away.

The suspect on seeing the officer approaching runs in the opposite direction, towards some trees.

Officer speaks a command, ‘OK drone follow suspect 40 metres in front of me’.

Drone is seen immediately passing above and in front of the officer. Suspect and drone are now out of site.

Officer slips out a smart device from his jacket, maybe a Samsung Note 4. One tap and the drone camera is now feeding live video..

Next command, ‘OK Drone thermal camera’. Suspect is immediately seen hiding in a ditch, out of sight, but not for the drone thermal image.

In the meantime, other officers are arriving - also able to view the drone camera in realtime.

I’ll split the story here. One version could be to locate and arrest the suspect. On approach face to face, the Officer has two video streams as evidence: body worn camera and drone.

The second story, how there’s a second suspect, or even a helpful member of the public who approaches from behind the officer. The drone, let’s say in ‘follow me mode’ will alert that officer in earpiece, ‘Alert person approaching behind you 10 metres..’

For a third option, let’s say there was a Police Dog, a drone command could be, ‘OK Drone follow the dog’.

After the arrest, Officer walks back to the patrol car. All that’s needed, ‘’OK Drone go Home’’.

The Good News - We are a lot closer to this in real life that you can imagine. And for very little training or cost - all thanks to the outstanding sensor technology already in many drones.

Breaking it all down - Let’s examine the DJI Mavic and all that it can do. You really must watch this video from 27 Sep 16. I’ll still be here after the 4 mins 43 secs when you get back..

What you saw in that video was real, you can buy these little things from Argos.

Highlights from the video include this list

  • how easy it all is, as they know, as they’ve ‘made it easy’
  • first mention of Flying Camera
  • started small
  • personal drone, 4k stabilised camera, 27 minute flight time
  • follows you, or whatever you want
  • avoids obstacles
  • 24 high performance computing cores, dual  satellite connectivity (20)
  • 4.3 mil range, 4 vision sensors,
  • the Mavic knows where it takes off from and where it is in the air and where Home is so it can return by itself
  • just like you Mavic sees and thinks
  • active track technology - spotlight, profile, trace or tap fly
  • terrain follow mode, set height as ground rises
  • game sized controller opens up to clamp around your phone
  • fly using virtual joysticks right from phone over wifi
  • wave or gesture to be on or behind camera
  • edit in DJI Go
  • Stream Live Video to facebook or youtube

I’ve also included a few screenshots from the video in this album.
PCSO Hurst tweet 15 March 17,
'What if that yellow box housed
 a flying camera Police Drone

Conclusion and Discussion - From the little scenario at the start and by watching while understanding the video..
  • How far away are we from seeing this happen in real life?
  • Is it a matter of Culture or Technology?
  • And as always, in practical terms safety rules and guidelines need to be applied.

In the story, I’ve added a few voice commands from the Officer. When writing, I did not know about the hand signals or gestures to tell the drone what to do next.

I like the idea of launching the drone from the roof of a vehicle. Another option from a sliding sunroof which makes takeoff so much easier and landing faster (which being pedestrian free).

As we’ve seen in other posts, like The Bobby on the Beat versus The Drone and The UK Police Resource Page forces are already using many types of drone.

From now on, I really like the term Flying Camera. I cannot say if this case study has already been tried out in UK or International Police Forces? I bet it has - we just need to find a few stories and track down the Officers.
Lead Image Credit: WMPeople: PC Dave Grossett – multi-award winning Response officer (with head/shoulders cropped out, as this officer or WMP are not associated with this post, as image states MOCKUP) and DJI Mavic from reckoner.com.au

footnote for more Info on Officers with Cameras ..

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