It sounds like a scenario from a sci-fi movie about a dystopian future: autonomous drones launch themselves from their ‘nest’ to pursue and surveil the perpetrators of crime, protestors or, perhaps, just people having too much of a good time.
However, the technological capability to make that scenario a reality is science fact, thanks to New Zealand company VigilAir. The company has just announced the launch (excuse the pun) of its semi-autonomous aerial surveillance drone technology onto the global market.
VigilAir director Mike Marr hailed the move as having the potential to change the face of security worldwide. “The VigilAir software product … will undoubtedly disrupt the security industry,” he said. “Simply put, our software will enable drones to be the first-response security guards of the future.”
VigilAir describes its system, developed in conjunction with US software company ASG Technologies, as a SaaS product that integrates drones into existing electronic security systems.
The company says it is suited to large outdoor sites such as retail and industrial parks, hospitals, university campuses, schools, ports, prisons, and town centres that are at risk of burglary, vandalism or security breaches.
“When not flying, the drone sits in an enclosure - dubbed a nest - located on a business site,” VigilAir explains. “When alerted by an alarm sensor trigger, it will be dispatched to fly over the site to investigate, recording and live-streaming high definition video footage to whoever’s monitoring the action.”
The drone, VigilAir says, “may include a thermal or infra-red camera, and bright LED floodlights to illuminate any intruder and record the scene. The hovering drone may sound a siren or even talk to the intruder using a two-way communications system.”
It adds: “A future release will allow the drone to be further manoeuvred to follow any fleeing suspects, capturing images of them and their vehicle license plate number as they evade.”
Marr said security guards, whether on site or operating remotely, would be able to use the system. He claimed it was able to talk to 99 percent of existing electronic security systems.
“This is all a lot safer than dispatching a guard on foot to check out a security problem,” Marr said. “Drones will help catch perpetrators as everything’s recorded, which is gold for any eventual prosecutions. And importantly, the ongoing cost will be lighter on operational budgets.”
Marr said VigilAir was completing reseller agreements with two major international corporations, and had the potential to make $400m in annualised revenue.