Drones are becoming an increasingly essential tool for incident commanders, providing critical visual information and improving situational awareness. For law enforcement, drones are helping police pinpoint the locations of active aggressors in order to protect officers and the public. For firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS), they help to safely assess the size and growth of a blaze and its risk of contacting hazardous chemicals or spreading to a residential area.
FLYMOTION, of Tampa, Florida, specializes in providing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), mobile drone command centers, communications technology, monitoring solutions, training and 24/7 support to clients in public safety, government, defense and other sectors.
“We have provided drone systems to hundreds of agencies since opening our doors in 2014,” said FLYMOTION CEO and Co-Founder Ryan English. “We offer everything that our clients need, including the guidance to set up their own in-house drone programs and help in getting the necessary FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] licenses and operator know-how to run drone programs properly. And because drones cost so much less to buy and operate than human-operated aircraft, aerial situational awareness is now an affordable option for all sizes of police and fire/EMS departments.”
In 2018, the New York Police Department (NYPD) selected FLYMOTION to supply their new fleet of 14 drones, drone support equipment and training. “As the largest municipal police department in the United States, the NYPD must always be willing to leverage the benefits of new and always-improving technology,” NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said in a news release. “Our new UAS program is part of this evolution — it enables our highly-trained cops to be even more responsive to the people we serve and to carry out the NYPD’s critical work in ways that are more effective, efficient, and safe for everyone.”
A Range of Sensor Options
When most people think of drones, they think of small, remotely controlled flying platforms carrying cameras that transmit digital photos and HD video to a monitor on the ground. FLYMOTION’s basic stable of drone options — ranging from a palm-sized DJI Mavic Mini to heavy-lifting drones — provides first responders with these kinds of real-time visuals.
But that’s only the beginning; FLYMOTION drones can also be equipped with infrared cameras for night-time surveillance and multigas detectors that can identify and monitor hazardous chemicals from a safe distance. Like HD video, this data can be streamed from the drone to first responders in the immediate area via mobile cellular networks to act upon the data in real-time.
“There are so many public safety missions that can be supported using our drones, including search and rescue, mass casualty events, fire scene monitoring and HAZMAT management,” said English. “Our portfolio of sensors allows first responders to assess CBRNE [chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive] threat situations at a safe distance, minimizing the risk to everyone.”
Drone Command Solutions
Having someone in a remote area fly a drone and try to stream its video when local mobile cellular coverage is at one bar or less is a primitive approach to establishing public safety situational awareness. This is why FLYMOTION has developed a series of mobile and vehicular solutions that allow multiple drone operators to deploy to a specific location, launch and control their drones from a single sheltered area, and stream their videos and sensor data back to an incident commander using signal-boosting mobile antenna arrays.
The FLYMOTION MAVERICK is a mobile drone command center built into a Chevrolet Tahoe that can be deployed anywhere on a moment’s notice. MAVERICK comes with the equipment to fly, monitor and transmit video streams from multiple drones via mobile cellular and satellite. The FLYMOTION TRIDENT offers these capabilities in a larger, multiperson Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van chassis.
For smaller departments, the FLYMOTION Mission Case LTE creates a mobile hotspot that can connect up to 128 simultaneous devices (including AT&T FirstNet devices) to a single enhanced wireless network connection. “We have equipped this unit with multiple mobile antennas that amplify the signals they send to 4G/LTE network towers,” said English. “This ensures that first responders working in remote areas with very weak mobile coverage can count on reliable connections.”
Partnering With Samsung
When it comes to selecting ruggedized smartphones and tablets to serve as mobile network connectors and drone control touchscreens, FLYMOTION chooses Samsung.
“Samsung builds great ruggedized products that meet the needs of our most exacting public safety and military clients,” said English. “Once we tested out their high-performance devices protected in extreme use cases, we found that Samsung mobile devices were a natural fit for our drone control platforms and mobile command centers.”
FLYMOTION is working on integrating Samsung DeX into their portfolio to expand the partnership with Samsung. DeX enables users to set up an in-vehicle computing system leveraging Galaxy smartphones and tablets to provide a full desktop experience. All a user has to do is dock their compatible mobile device into the in-vehicle DeX setup with a monitor, keyboard and mouse, and they now have a powerful desktop computer at their fingertips.
“Samsung smartphones and tablets are durable, reliable and trusted by our public safety and military clients, who have very high standards for all-conditions toughness,” English said. “They are key parts of the FLYMOTION equation, which is to give first responders the most capable, flexible and bulletproof drone solutions possible. This is why we have won contracts with major military and public safety agencies like the NYPD.”