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State police float Michigan-wide drone use

The Michigan State Police could become the first police agency in the nation with statewide authorization to deploy an aerial drone to photograph vehicle crash scenes and give a bird's-eye view of other emergency situations.

The agency hopes to get permission next month from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly a $158,000 remote-controlled tiny helicopter that state police pilots have been training to use for more than a year.

State police officials say the drone should reduce the time required to survey and reconstruct major crash scenes like the 193-vehicle pileup that shut down a section of Interstate 94 between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek earlier this month.

"That would have been so useful," said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, commander of the Michigan State Police.

It took two days to reopen the highway after the pileup, in part because crash investigators had to take detailed measurements and photos of the scene before they could begin clearing the wreckage of passenger vehicles and commercial trucks, Etue said. Ontario Provincial Police reports up to an 87 percent reduction in the time for its drones to photograph and reconstruct crash areas.

The Aeryon SkyRanger unmanned aerial vehicle takes hundreds of overlapping photos that a computer program stitches together to create a three-dimensional map of a crash, helping investigators reconstruct how vehicle pileups occur, said 1st Lt. Chris Bush.

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Learning to Fly

There’s no shortage of potential pro AV applications of drones. Tim Kridel investigates what integrators need to expand into drone-based AV – and whether they even have a shot at this emerging market.

The following is an excerpt from this InAVate magazine article:

“Until the FAA finalizes the regulations for the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), exemptions will only be granted on a case-by-case basis,” says Melanie Hinton, senior communications manager at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. “These rules will vary by country."

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VTOL small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) Industry Predictions for 2015

Aeryon Labs had a great year in 2014, as did the VTOL sUAS industry. Business has doubled from a year ago, and the outlook is for further strengthening. As we look into 2015, the sUAS industry is well situated to continue growing and evolving at a remarkable pace. That means it is time for a few 2015 predictions for the consumer, prosumer and professional market tiers:

    • Hegemony in the Consumer Market: In the consumer and prosumer tiers of VTOL sUAS, the oligopoly of Parrot, DJI and XAircraft will advance its collective lead. Together, these vendors hold over 80% of the global consumer market, and virtually all of its profitability. The advantages that these players have are compelling for R&D, manufacturing, and access to distribution to service consumers and prosumers. They will extend their sector lead in 2015. The outside player which is best situated to ascend to this lead pack of consumer drone producers is GoPro, if they follow through on their reported efforts to launch a product in this category in 2015.

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Bird's eye view

In this intersec magazine article, Timothy Compston investigates the growing capabilities offered by UAS technology for strategic and tactical border security, and weighs the security threats they pose if misused.

Today, unmanned aerial system – or “drone” – technology has developed to the stage where it can provide a powerful force multiplier for military, government, and law enforcement agencies alike, allowing them obtain a bird’s eye view of situations as they develop and to deploy their resources in an intelligent and proactive way. Of course, this positive message has to be set against growing concerns that have hit the headlines over the last 12 months regarding the widespread availability of this technology – which at its most basic can be picked-up for a few hundred dollars – and multiple examples of systems being flown recklessly or, even more worryingly, with malicious intent.

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View from above

Timothy Compston looks at how drones are offering a different perspective on security and why they seem to be taking off in the Middle East.

The following is an excerpt from the article:

Award winning manufacturer Aeryon Labs have been active in this area since 2007. According to Dave Kroetsch, CEO, around 80% of the Canadian company’s turnover comes from exports. In fact, the Middle East has become one of Aeryon’s biggest territories for sUAS(small Unmanned Aerial System) sales: “We already have a lot of government customers using our drones in the region with more to follow,” says Kroetsch.

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