The use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (or drones) continues to grow in the First Responder Market with more Police and Fire Departments adding “drone fleets” to their arsenal of tools they use to help keep us all safe. These units can be used for search and rescue operations, surveillance for security, crime scene analysis, crowd control, transport of critical equipment such as life jackets for a water rescue, tower and building inspections, and even to put antennas in the air at a high altitude for a wider bubble of coverage. These units have become a great resource for their users and in many cases help keep the First Responders safe as well by providing them more distance from a dangerous event or activity while still giving them the situational awareness they need. And as an added benefit, they are really fun to fly!
CCS made the decision several years ago that we did not want to get into the business of selling the actual drone units, but instead we wanted to focus on providing solutions that support the drone pilots making it as easy and as comfortable as possible for them to deploy these units. A key part of our strategy is to provide them the networking equipment to be able to share or stream their drone video live from anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world. As most of you already know, drones can very easily record the video they take locally on a data storage device embedded into the unit which can then be quickly downloaded to a computer or smart device and then shared electronically. The more challenging aspect is when the pilot wants to stream this video live to share with other people so they can see what the pilot is seeing “real time”. This provides a lot of benefits because having some extra sets of eyes watching this live video or using some video analytical software to search through the video can greatly assist in locating targets and sharing situational awareness information. Imagine having this video displayed on a 80 inch high definition screen versus a 6 or 7 inch monitor that the pilot may be using.
One of our first offers into this drone market was our MERC-UASC (Unmanned Aerial System Carrier) launched in 2018 which is a custom designed and built trailer or vehicle that is used as a platform to allow the drone pilots and deployment team to have a comfortable place to operate their drones and to have the network and power capabilities to enable them to remotely communicate regardless of their location and to be able to stream their drone video feed live to a location of their choice. The MERC is unique in that the box of the unit is partially built out of a UV rated Plexiglas that has three exterior walls that fold down and serve as launching and landing pads for the drones. The Plexiglas walls allow the pilot of the drone and his team to maintain line of sight with the unit while sitting inside a climate controlled environment in a comfortable gaming chair in front of a custom cockpit with all of their required flight control and assist equipment at their fingertips! The MERC is equipped with an on-board generator for remote power, a small IT rack, a roof mounted satellite, a dual sim LTE router that supports FirstNet, and a battery back up system. The satellite and LTE router ensure that the users have the ability to stream their drone video live from anywhere in the world using an on-board video encoder and computer.
Unfortunately when First Responders deploy drones, they are not always going to have the luxury of having a MERC-UASC. Many times these units are kept in the back seat or trunk of a Police vehicle and are deployed on the fly when an incident occurs requiring their use. The terrain of the location or possible flooding may not allow a trailer or vehicle to reach the location where the drone needs to deploy. This need for a more mobile device drove CCS to modify our existing PERC kit to provide the user a backpack capable unit that can be carried on their body to reach these locations. The PERC combined with a Sat-Lite fly-away satellite system that can also store in a backpack lets these drone pilots have the hardware and network connectivity they need to once again stream their drone video live and communicate from anywhere in the world.
The PERC is a small mobile network and drone streaming service device packaged in a compact weather resistant Pelican style case powered by a lithium battery system that provides 24-36 hours of run time. The unit provides connectivity to all LTE network providers including the new federal FirstNet Band 14 network through the use of an internal dual sim router that can do network load balancing and network bonding. In addition to the LTE connectivity the unit also includes an internal iDirect modem board that allows the unit to be connected to a Ku Band satellite system supporting download speeds up to 200 mbps and upload speeds up to 50 mbps. An internal hardened POE switch provides three usable POE ports that allow connectivity for IP phones, IP cameras, computers, etc.. – basically any device that needs a CAT5e port and network connectivity. An external WAN port provides a CAT5e connection directly into the LTE router to provide an additional network connection option. The LTE router also provides a local WiFi connection that is password protected. LTE and WiFi antennas are included with the system and are mounted on the internal faceplate. A small computer and video encoder are installed in the unit to provide connectivity to most smart devices that are used to pilot drones. Once these smart devices are synced with the wireless connection for the video encoder, the live video feeds from the drone connected to smart device can be streamed to any streaming service that the user is allowed to access. This allows the drone video to be monitored and recorded by multiple people regardless of their location as long as they have a network connection and the proper security approval levels. A voltage meter is included to provide a visual indication of the battery charge levels. The unit can be charged by a standard 110 charging system or by a 12 volt “cigarette style” charger for vehicle operation. The unit can support up to 4 simultaneous drone video feeds. Custom programming code was created to control the battery discharge and charging process and to optimize the quality of the video feeds. This unit can be used to aide in anti-terrorism surveillance operations, search and rescue missions, security at large scale public events, basically any activity that requires drone video for situational awareness. The unit weighs 22 lbs making it easy to carry in a backpack.
CCS has a Patent Pending on this new PERC unit so much more detail on it in the coming months. We have done a great deal of testing with several of our drone partners including Fortress Solutions out of Plano, TX. On March 17, 2020 one of the lead engineers at Fortress used the PERC kit to deploy one of his UAS units and stream the video to the CCS Your Tube Live account. The video was recorded so take a look at the quality of the video streaming through the Pepwave dual sim router utilizing a AT&T FirstNet sim and a Verizon Wireless sim. The video includes the setup process for the drone prior to take-off – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGpuPOkf03Q&feature=em-lsb-owner .
Please contact us directly with any questions at 972-772-2721 or firstname.lastname@example.org!