A Flying Crime Fighter –Some Assembly Required
Chang Industry’s portable unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which is made of foldable graphite composite poles and parachute cloth, will carry video surveillance cameras that wirelessly transmit at 30 frames per second. The California-based Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will test the devices, which cost $5,000 each and weight less than five pounds.
Easily transported in the trunk of a patrol car, UAVs are likely to replace expensive helicopters and planes in surveillance operations due to their low cost and avoidance of putting a pilot or expensive helicopter in the air as a target for suspects.
Chang’s UAV can fly up to1,000 feet and at 30 miles per hour, but the battery life is only about 20 minutes and officers on the ground must control the plane using a joystick.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department technology evaluation officer Cmdr. Sid Heal fully supports the UAV technology due to its safety benefits and low cost.
Chang is working on a larger UAV with autonomous flight capability and a camera with the ability to pan, tilt, zoom, and work during the night.
Paul Takemoto of the FAA says the UAVs must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis if law enforcement officers want to use them in urban areas, and the FAA is currently working on sweeping legislation concerning the UAVs with an expected completion in September 2005.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the ew York Times (01/13/05) P. G7; Farivar, Cyrus .