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Will drones take off within security?

 - 
Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The role of robotics within security continues to increase, as the technology can act as a force multiplier, expand the scope and effectiveness of security around and within a perimeter, including everything from small to expansive areas. Drones, for example, have come a long way in just a couple of years, and are starting to be used in commercial and industrial senarios, as well as in and around home.

With drone technology advancing at a fast rate, FAA regulations loosening, and more accessible off-the-shelf solutions available, we may be at a turning point when it comes to increased adoption of drones within security, according to a recent whitepaper, Drones in Security & Surveillance, by FlytBase, an enterprise drone automation company.

“The physical security market is primed for drone automation and scaling — the time, cost and safety benefits of autonomous drone fleets can create significant business value for this industry,” FlytBase CEO Nitin Gupta, said in the announcement of the white paper. “Drone patrols will augment human guards and enable security agencies, risk managers, security directors, system integrators and other stakeholders to make faster, better decisions for real-time incident response, remote security operations, event management, disaster response and more.”

The ability to deploy in a multitude of 24/7 security and surveillance use-cases is helping to drive increased demand and adoption of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), said Flytbase, noting that UAVs address many user/customer pain points, including:
     •    High turnover of security guards;
     •    Operations at night and in hostile scenarios;
     •    Surveillance of hard-to-reach locations;
     •    Liabilities associated with human and helicopter patrols;
     •    CCTV blind spots; and
     •    Need for real-time situational awareness in emergencies, etc.

“The time for aerial security is now ripe because the prosumer drone market has matured so rapidly in the last few years that commercial-off-the-shelf drones can be used commercially, instead of (expensive, monolithic, low reliability) custom drones, in all but the most demanding security and surveillance use-cases,” according to the white paper. “The physical security market is one of the most compelling target segments for the commercial drone industry. As automation technology is adopted for industrial and commercial security, drone fleets will play a central role, given that they can be deployed autonomously, at scale.” 

The two obvious obstacles for driving broad adoption of drones in aerial security use-cases tended to be:
     •    Hardware (battery life, sensor quality, flight stability, etc.); and
     •    Regulation (especially for beyond visual-line-of-sight i.e. BVLOS operations)

However, these are now turning enablers, with the emergence of:
     •    Reliable, off-the-shelf drones that are affordable and programmable; and
     •    FAA integrated pilot programs, EVLOS relaxations, Part 107 certifications and UAS Remote ID.

As UAV regulations mature, security agencies in particular are expected to rapidly   adopt drones to substantially reduce their operating costs, improve perimeter coverage and awareness, and to minimize occupational, health and safety risks to human guards.  Despite a variety of relevant use-cases, the enterprise adoption of drones in this sector remains at the proof-of-concept and pilot stage; for production deployments to become widespread, three enablers are needed:

     1.    Drone-in-a-box hardware that is cost-effective and yet reliable;
     2.    SaaS solutions that automate drones, are scalable and yet hardware-agnostic; and
     3.    Integrated offerings that require low investment, & hence pay back in < 1 year.

“For VLOS and EVLOS security operations, the drone-in-a-box requirement is less critical,” the white paper noted. “Thus, security agencies, domain consultants, drone  system integrators, managed service providers and end users can all get started with off-the-shelf, prosumer-grade drones and existing SaaS offerings, and eventually add docking stations and charging pads to their autonomous drone security operations.”

Click here for the complete white paper.