May 13, 2024

New Drone as First Responders (DFR) Flight Capabilities

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3D Model of Skydio Dock Hive

Enhancing Law Enforcement programs based on real-world operations

As law enforcement agencies broaden their deployment of Drone as First Responder (DFR) programs, we are purposely building expanded workflows and capabilities to enhance response times and ensure safer operations. The latest enhancements to the Skydio Remote Ops software and the Remote Flight Deck flight application have been shaped by feedback from active deployments and strong customer collaborations, focusing on the following areas:

  1. Faster response times by routing and speed innovations
  2. Increased situational awareness by reducing the cognitive load for pilots
  3. Safer operations by planning for unexpected events

Recognizing that every second is crucial, our focus has been on refining features that enable quicker drone deployment and allow teams to get “eyes” on a scene for greater situational awareness. We're preparing for diverse operation scenarios by broadening an agency's ability to define safe operational areas to reduce flight risks and establish designated safe landing zones for unexpected events.

Faster Response Times

Get eyes on a call for service (CFS) faster with Fly to Point capabilities in Skydio Remote Ops; this capability allows operators to direct drones swiftly to a point on a map or specific coordinates. By simply clicking on a map or entering precise GPS coordinates, responders can send drones to exact locations autonomously while streamlining the video to responders and stakeholders as it routes to the situation – saving value time over manually controlled flights. This functionality is enhanced with configurable heights, allowing the drone to ascend or descend to optimal viewing altitudes before or while in flight to the destination. In addition, if the situation on the ground changes, pilots can take full control of the flight at any time ensuring they are in the right place to maximize situational awareness.

Skydio Remote Flight Deck DFR UI
Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) operator remotely pilots Skydio X10

Speed matters. In high-pressure situations where every second can be critical, having drones that respond rapidly is invaluable. The new Boost capability utilizes the onboard AI to maximize the drone’s speed while being flown autonomously to the CFS, allowing it to reach up to 31 mph. This ensures that first responders can gain an aerial overview of the situation as quickly as possible.

Increased situational awareness

Responding to a critical call is stressful and puts a high cognitive burden on the pilot navigating to the scene while trying to get a view of the situation on the ground. The new Free Look capability takes advantage of Skydio’s onboard AI to autonomously navigate to its destination while the pilot retains full control of the camera based on an agency's standard operating procedures.

The feature frees up the pilot to focus on getting optimal situational oversight and facilitates better communication with officers on the ground. Remote Operators can easily adjust the camera view using keyboard arrow keys, pointer lock, or a game controller without altering the drone's flight path. Additionally, the mission can be paused or resumed to concentrate on specific details or points of interest. Along with streaming video, pilots have the ability to take pictures and capture critical data while the drone continues its autonomous navigation towards the call, ensuring continuous operation and safety.

Skydio X10 above Police Officer on Patrol
Patrol officer in Miami Beach activates Skydio X10

Plan for the unexpected

In DFR programs, ensuring safety during flight operations is critical for responders on the ground and builds trust with the community. Skydio's Autonomy technology provides an unmatched safe flying experience; however, preparing for unexpected events is equally important in case of an issue or change in conditions.

Understanding your operating area translates directly to safer flights. Skydio has enhanced its geofencing capabilities, which expand an agency's ability to build multiple keep-in and keep-out zones on their operational maps. Determining known risks, such as high pedestrian traffic areas, structures, or regulated airspace, gives the pilot confidence that they are flying in clear airspace within the agency guidelines and operational waivers.

Skydio Safe Landing Point UI - Remote Flight Deck
Remote Flight Deck safe landing user interface

In an emergency situation, it may not be possible for a drone to return it’s dock, to account for this possibility, Skydio has introduced Safe Landing Points to provide backup landing options. Predefined areas, such as rooftops, precinct parking lots or other controlled areas, give the drone more options for landing, reducing the risk of entering high-traffic areas and decreasing damage to the vehicle. Notifications are sent out when drones approach or land at these points, and the coordinates can be easily shared with personnel through Skydio Cloud, facilitating quick and efficient drone retrieval.

Additionally, for enhanced security, Skydio's Dock’s lights can be set to remain off when not in operation, with options to activate just before and deactivate shortly after missions, allowing the dock to remain inconspicuous and more secure.

Skydio drone X2 Dock Launch response
Skydio X2 launching from Skydio Dock during the Oklahoma State Fair

The Future of DFR is NOW

DFR has moved from a concept at a few agencies over the past few years to an integral part of daily operations at agencies across the country with the support of Skydio. We partner with agencies to scale operations and build end-to-end build programs—from obtaining regulatory waivers to deploying hardware and software, training teams, and mission planning. Plus, with the Skydio Extend integrations platform, we connect your dispatch systems, video management/streaming platforms, Axon Evidence, and more into a seamless workflow within your current infrastructure.

Skydio will continue to work with customers, learn from real-world feedback, and continually develop enhancements to ensure safer outcomes for first responders and community members. Act now and partner with Skydio to operationalize a DFR program at your agency today.

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