Rajant, a provider of private wireless networks, successfully conducted tests that show the national average time for authorities to respond to a verified home alarm — seven minutes — can be drastically lowered if alarm companies use unmanned aerial systems (UAS, or drones), to supplement their current infrastructure.
Rajant partnered with AlarmTransfer of Norman, Oklahoma, to test the viability of using drones for aerial surveillance throughout the neighborhoods where AlarmTransfer’s cameras are stationed. The “Launch on Alert” tests used the xCraft’s x2i Hybrid VTOL drone, which runs on Rajant’s InstaMesh networking technology, and can fly for 45 minutes at speeds up to 60 mph. The tests proved that a home alarm company can get aerial surveillance on the scene as quickly as 30 seconds.
“If an alarm is triggered, you want to get eyes on the scene as fast as you can and find out what’s going on,” said Don Gilbreath, vice president, systems, for Rajant. “This UAS system can cut response time down to a few minutes or even seconds, which increases the safety of communities and decreases police department overhead by reducing false calls for service.”
The drones live in “nests” that are autonomous recharging units, located within a certain geographic radius of a business or residential customer. When a customer’s alarm or alert is triggered, information is sent to a drone nest that gives the drone relevant data on the event. The nest then deploys a drone. Computer logic dictates flight path and the type of a drone responding (e.g., sending a drone with a thermal camera for a fire event).
The drone flies along a predetermined route to investigate. There is an open link between the drone’s feed and a command center, so operators can view the scene and take remote control as needed. Once the investigation is complete, the drone returns to the nest, docks, begins recharging and waits for next mission. The system can choose to send one or more drones at one time to respond to a particular alarm, and the entire process is autonomous.
“The one place you should feel safe is your own neighborhood,” said Lee Stauss, CEO for AlarmTransfer. “With Rajant, we have the ability to deploy multiple drones that are interconnected, so they all communicate with each other to track suspicious activity on the property in real time. We’re able to look at the whole community at once, at a much greater level of detail.”
The communications and flight control system are platform agnostic, allowing companies to use whatever drone system best fits its application. A control station allows personnel to monitor the drone’s avatar as well as its telemetry, communications and live video feed, all in real time. A single person can control the entire fleet as well as the cameras aboard each drone, to angle cameras toward a specific region of interest.
“Because every drone is on our mesh network, all drones are in communication with each other,” Gilbreath said. “This allows them to share information and work together to fly to a location and gain aerial intelligence faster than a land vehicle can.”
Stauss added, “Rajant’s network and the x2i drone allow us to build an aerial platform to create faster response times [and] take some burden off the police department, with a camera system to deter crime. The key is being able to intervene and change the course of an event as it’s unfolding. With this technology, we don’t have to stand by passively and wait for first responders to arrive. Now, when something happens, we have the ability to go out and stop it.”