Helicopter drones are becoming more popular both for commercial and consumer use. This year, some 4 million drones were sold to consumers. It’s estimated by Juniper Research that sales will grow to 16 million by 2020.
Drones have also been making news throughout 2015. Many of the stories have been centered around users flying drones where they should not, such as near airports or military installations.
But despite the mistakes by some consumers, drone usage holds a lot of potential for the security industry.
With the ability to launch quickly, be deployed to any location and hover over an area easily, drones offer an aerial view that land-based, stationary cameras cannot provide. They can also deliver a wider field of vision, with a 360-degree arc that the standard security camera does not possess. This means that those under surveillance cannot leave the view of the camera.
Drone cameras also operate out-of-reach of an intruder, so they can’t be tampered with, disabled or sprayed with paint.
A drone can also follow those under surveillance if they decide to run, keeping track of them until the authorities arrive. Stationary cameras can only capture them running away.
A Japanese company, Secom, developed an integrated security system that featured an autonomous drone. When motion is detected along a property’s perimeter, the drone is signaled to lift off and hovers over the area, sending real-time video to a command center.
The drone is programmed using GPS technology, so it won’t leave the property’s air space, but can capture any person or vehicle that does.
Imagine a similar technology that might soon be available for your home, triggered when motion is detected on your property. That drone may have human recognition software. When a person is identified as the source of the motion, the drone alerts you, local law enforcement and shines a bright light on the intruder.
There are also drones be tested now that carry stun guns that could conceivably incapacitate a person.
In the future, drones using GPS technology will likely patrol areas autonomously and continuously, signaling a replacement drone to take its place when its batteries run low. Thus, an area will never need to be left unguarded again.
Compared to other security systems, today’s drones are not expensive. The price of the drone itself is in the hundreds-of-dollars right now and there are no installation costs. Drone pricing varies depending on the size of the unit and the type of sensor it employs: A high-resolution camera, thermal imaging or light-detection and ranging systems (LIDAR). Many drones allow for sensors to be interchanged.
Drone flights are also a fraction of the cost of using a full-size helicopter.
Costs may begin to rise when drones are integrated with other security or detection systems. But when that happens, the advanced capabilities of these systems will likely make them cost-effective.
As imaging, robotic and detection technologies continue to evolve, tying them with a mobile aerial device such as a drone will create additional capabilities that have not been imagined or realized yet. As a tool, we are just beginning to see what the security applications of drone technology might be.
Looking forward, the sky is the limit!