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Sky’s the limit for surveillance drone

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! PASADENA – Sheriff’s officials Friday tested the next generation in law enforcement surveillance technology. The pilotless aircraft – dubbed SkySeer – has an onboard GPS and a magnetic compass, along with a pan-tilt camera that can give commanders a real-time view of crime scenes, said Los Angeles County sheriff’s Cmdr. Charles “Sid” Heal. Authorities gave the 3 1/2-pound drone a test flight Friday morning in the Rose Bowl parking lot. “The primary purpose is to provide a bird’s-eye tactical view of a situation, although many other applications are possible,” Heal said. “It is one of the first \ intended for law enforcement purposes, and is an extremely portable, hand-launched, battery-operated vehicle capable of sustained and autonomous flight.” The SkySeer, developed by Chang Industry of La Verne, flies at about 20 to 23 mph, though testing was conducted up to 30 mph. Equipped with an infrared camera, it can fly in conditions, such as fog, that helicopters cannot, and monitor locations without endangering law enforcement personnel, Heal said. The SkySeer’s electric motor allows for nearly silent surveillance, and its slow-forward airspeed enables a skilled controller to almost stall the craft in mid-flight in certain wind conditions, said Randy Earp, director of business development for Chang Industry. “During a burglary or manhunt, officers can simply pop it out of a tube, assemble it in minutes and launch it into the sky,” Earp said. And unlike military drones, the SkySeer was designed around the camera, Earp added. “That was the issue with our UAV – we decided what camera we’d need and built the air frame around it,” he said. While the craft has been tested up to 7,000 feet, its optimal range is between 250 and 450 feet, Earp said, adding that curious birds investigated and even attempted to mate with the drone during one test-flight. Flight time for the SkySeer is listed at 70 minutes before recharging is required, Earp said. Sheriff’s officials will be testing the craft over the next 30 to 60 days, said Deputy Rich Pena.last_img

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