SkyBound Rescuer, a company specializing in the use of drones for public safety, has recently introduced a new automated drone service for Transport for West Midlands (TfWM). The trial took place in Walsall, where an automated drone station has been established with the goal of improving transport efficiency across various networks.
Gemma Alcock, CEO of SkyBound Rescuer, is known for her work in search and rescue (SAR) drone operations. Her company's recent venture has been touted to address common urban transportation challenges. The initial tests have indicated a positive impact on TfWM's ability to manage transportation networks and address public safety concerns.
Currently, TfWM utilizes over 2,500 CCTV cameras to oversee its transport infrastructure across the West Midlands region. With the integration of SkyBound Rescuer's drones, TfWM aims to complement its existing CCTV framework and expedite its emergency response. The drones can reportedly reach an emergency in approximately 5 minutes, significantly faster than the response time of traditional manned aircraft.
The automated service leverages the SkyBound Coordinator software. This software enables users to draft drone mission plans through a simplified flight request form. Along with the software, the new service incorporates automated drone station (ADS) technology. This combination facilitates fully automated end-to-end flight operations, allowing human operators to focus on monitoring the flight imagery. For the trial, the drones were monitored by a remote pilot in SkyBound’s Southampton-based control room, while also being within sight of an onsite safety pilot.
During the first week of the trial, the average response to flight requests was recorded at 5 minutes and 44 seconds. This statistic stands in stark contrast to the National Police Air Service's response time of 15 minutes for priority calls.
Additionally, the drones played a pivotal role in ensuring public safety. On one occasion, an altercation spotted on CCTV was further monitored using the drone. SkyBound's software provides tools for real-time tracking and marking of incidents, aiding in evidence capture similar to fixed CCTV footage.
SkyBound Rescuer and TfWM are currently evaluating the results of this trial, considering the potential for a broader implementation across the West Midlands.
Gemma Alcock remarked on the focus of the company's efforts, stating that SkyBound Rescuer is dedicated to employing drones in ways that can significantly benefit society. The emphasis remains on optimizing performance and safety during each flight.
Kerry Blakeman, Head of Security and Policing of Transport for West Midlands, expressed appreciation for the partnership with SkyBound Rescuer. Blakeman highlighted the potential of automated drone technology to transform the CCTV industry and applauded SkyBound Rescuer's diligent planning for the trial.