Governments have used unmanned drones for years, but they have remained the stuff of science fiction in the commercial security market.
Enter Nightingale, a startup aiming to bring drones to commercial security, with automated operation, live and archived video streaming, routine patrols, and high-end features not seen in consumer drones. Here's their marketing video:
Inside this note, we share our findings from speaking with Nightingale, examining this system, its features, functions, and its security application potential.
I can see the potential in this- thinking of it like a mobile PTZ.
I would hope the drone/system has enough 'intelligence' to land/go back to base and/or refuse to launch should weather condtions exceed safe flying conditions- ie wind, excessive rain, storm like conditions. Wouldn't want an over zealous night guard lauching the drone in very strong/gusty winds and having the sites expensive drone disappear in to the night, never to be seen again.
Any indication at what altitude these multicopters "patrol"? I think the real value of these for commercial security will be when the optics and stabilization are good enough that they can mostly go straight up and rely on high-resolution, stabalized optics with PTZ to provide an affordable "eye in the sky".
That will allow the security operator to worry less about where the drone currently is and focus on using the video in a very simplified manner. Think Google Earth ease of use, with a live feed.
I would think the most effective use of these is by scanning a large outdoor area using thermal cameras, minimal cost for a mini microbolometer is around $3K plus extras for mounting the camera and matching properly with a gimbal.
I've had the Phantom II for about a year now using a 3d gimbal with Hero3+ and Hero 4 camera. GoPro cameras are terrible at night not to mention that it is very clear that UAV's are not to be flown at night, above 400', nor should you ever lose sight of the unit.
I've toyed around with the idea of a side-business but until the FAA comes out with hard and fast rules, it is risky to dump a bunch of money into the unknown. I've used my Phantom to capture potential camera images for some of my industrial customers with 70' - 80' light poles, just a sales tactic though.
While I regularly drive 61+ mph in a 60mph zone and is technically breaking the law, many companies are flying UAVs for commercial and business purposes which is technically breaking FAA law.
All it takes is one of these UAVs getting sucked up into the engine of a commercial passenger plane and it all goes away....lot's of college kids and high school kids for that matter are flying these. Those with no responsibility and plenty of carelessness will ruin it for those who are following the rules.
Best use I've found is using UAVs mounted with LIDAR to track movements and slope slippage in prone areas. Unfortunately LIDAR is quite cost prohibitive.