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SkySeer--Eyes in the Sky

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 54 Issue: 9 Dated: September 2006 Pages: 126-128,130
Bill Siuru
Date Published
September 2006
4 pages
This article describes the technology and potential law enforcement functions of the Octatron SkySeer, a high-tech, relatively inexpensive unmanned aerial vehicle that has been designed specifically for law enforcement aerial surveillance.
The 4-pound SkySeer has a top speed of 24 mph and a minimum speed of 16 mph. It can stay in the air for up to 70 minutes on its rechargeable lithium polymer battery, which powers the propeller's electric motor, onboard camera, control surfaces, transmitter/receiver, and GPS (global positioning system) flight control system. Its range of 2 miles, determined by the transmission range, can be extended by using Octatron's NetWeaver wireless network. SkySeer's video surveillance camera transmits images in real time. It flies autonomously on a flight path programmed into it before launch by using GPS waypoints. The SkySeer has a wingspan of 6.5 feet and folds up for storage in a tubular carrying case, enabling it to be transported in the trunk of a police car. The SkySeer could fly low and slow while looking over walls and into windows, providing SWAT teams with critical situational knowledge. It can fly in fog and poor weather conditions, and its silent operation facilitates secret surveillance. The SkySeer could be used to monitor crowds, athletic events, and other public gatherings. It can also be used in border surveillance. One significant obstacle to the use of the SkySeer, especially in urban areas, is the lack of clear Federal Aviation Administration regulations for its use. Currently, its use in urban areas must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.