Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.
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40 unmanned systems inside February/March 2017 AIR SECURITY NEW NIGHTWATCHMEN by Charles Q. Choi Photos courtesy of Aptonomy D rones have served as eyes in the sky above battlef ields for years. Now companies are developing security drones to serve as watchdogs for everything from events, such as concerts and conferences, to facilities, such as warehouses and factories. Some of these new security drones can quickly f ly at intruders with lights and loud- speakers. Others can stay up in the air doing surveillance independently for days. Sounding the Alarm Mihail Pivtoraiko's interest in security drones stemmed in part from his work in running a real estate business alongside his graduate work in robotics at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and his postdoctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. When he and his wife moved to the Bay Area in Cali- fornia, "I had owner worries about properties in Pittsburgh," said Pivtoraiko, co-founder, president and CEO of Aptonomy in San Jose, California. "Using drones to look after those properties from a distance made a lot of sense to me." Pivtoraiko and his colleagues had previously conducted research to compute trajectories for moving vehicles, work that is now widely used to help design self-driving cars. "Extending this work to drones seemed like a perfect fit," he said. The unarmed security drone that Aptonomy offers is based on DJI's eight-rotor S1000+ drone. The three-and-a-half-foot-wide octocop- ter comes equipped with blue and red lights, a white spotlight, and twin loudspeakers. It also has a conventional and night vision camera to help operators see, as well as LiDAR and inertial measurement sensors to help the drone navigate. Fully loaded, the drone weighs about 25 lbs. "The lights are the most powerful that we can put on a drone—they can illuminate pretty much anything as far as 30 to 60 feet away," Pivtoraiko said. "The loudspeakers can be heard 100 feet away, and can definitely be heard very clearly over the rotors. Together, they help the drone engage an intruder in a meaningful way—security guards on site can use the drone as a PA (Public Address) system to really talk to a person of interest." Aptonomy's current models are set to op- erate at speeds of up to 25 mph, and can reach speeds of up to 50 mph. "The biggest use case our customers are interested in is alarm response, and there, time is of the es- The Aptonomy security drone has a spotlight and loudspeakers to scare off prowlers as well as cameras to monitor areas and record incidents. Drones with infrared cameras, alarms and persistence are emerging as a way to supplement security systems at private facilities and venues. the