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Monday, October 1, 2007

Rotorcraft Report: Police Use UAV for Crowd Surveillance


Police in Staffordshire, England used an unmanned helicopter to survey a crowd of 95,000 at a music festival in August. The MW Power Systems-manufactured drone weighs 1 kg (2.2 lb) and is fitted with a wide-angle, closed-circuit TV camera. Although it may be equipped with night lenses, a color camera was used for the festival, which was held during daylight hours. The helicopter is radio-controlled and battery-powered. It records to digital memory or may downlink images to a computer. The aircraft is small, making it safe to hover over a crowd, and was lent to the Staffordshire police as a demonstrator. It costs £25,000-35,000 ($49,727-$69,618), depending on how it is equipped. Police are now debating whether or not to purchase the unit. Crowd surveillance without it would have been done with a fixed closed-circuit TV camera placed on a nearby tower. Police said they do not intend to use the aircraft as a patrol vehicle, but only in situations where there is a large crowd, such as at a football match, or to get a perspective on an accident scene. The police do intend on using it at next year’s music festival. Staffordshire police fly a Eurocopter EC135 T1. MW Power Systems is located in Stoke on Trent, England.

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