Drones Can Lead First Responders Into Battle


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Just as drones are being used in the tower industry to save workers a climb, the small, unmanned aircraft are helping police in Chula Vista, CA respond to 911 calls. Describing a recent domestic dispute in which a woman driving a car tried to repeatedly hit a man on a motorcycle, Chula Vista Police Department Captain Vern Sallee said the fight took place over several blocks.

A drone hovered over the scene, recording video that will be used as evidence in court, said Sallee. 

“We were able to divert other resources to this now very high priority call and potentially save this guy’s life and obviously get two people in custody, recover a stolen motorcycle, and ensure public safety,” he told VentureBeat.  

The Chula Vista Police Department is participating in a trial drone first responder program in concert with the drone piloting company Cape, which is also testing drone use with the San Diego Fire Department. The trials are part of the FAA’s integrated pilot program to test drones for a variety of uses nationwide.

AT&T is also using drones to test its 5G networks, according to the account. In first responder use, drones are deployed before a crime occurs, because it can get there before officers can. After three months of testing, Sallee wants drones that police, fire and medical emergency responders can deploy from the roof of Chula Vista’s fire stations in less than two minutes after a 911 call.

“We’re a long way from AI and other kind of onboard systems to control what our process is right now, so for the foreseeable we see a lot of human touch to this,” Sallee said. “However, our hope is that automation is going to alleviate a lot of the flight control issues so that our folks can be less pilots and be more cops.”  Comments? Email Us.

February 20, 2019 

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