Dubai police use citywide network of drones to respond to crime

Dubai police use citywide network of drones to respond to crime

Dubai police can respond to an incident anywhere in the United Arab Emirates city within one minute, because of a network of pre-positioned drone bases.

The quadcopters, given by Israeli company Airobotics, will operate from base stations through the Expo 2020 event starting in October this season, an exhibition reported to be the third most significant event in the world following the Olympics and the World Cup. The drones will certainly reduce police response time from 4.4 minutes to at least one 1 minute according to a tweet from Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Each base includes a sliding roof that allows the drones to enter and exit. The drones can fly pre-programmed patrols, or be dispatched to a specific location, allowing an operator at police headquarters to inspect the scene, or follow a suspicious individual or vehicle and pass data to other police units.

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At 1.8 metres wide, the quadcopters are larger than consumer drones. The bottom station relays communications and incorporates a robot arm to swap out the drone’s batteries, and can land and remove immediately without delay for recharging.

Airobotics’s drones-in-a-box already are used at various sites in several countries, but this is the first time they have been used for citywide policing. Occasionally, they provides security, in others, the drones perform industrial tasks, for instance undertaking daily surveys of stockpiles of coal or phosphate from mines. Singapore deployed two Airobotics units last year to aid with covid-19 lockdown compliance measures, to check on reports of gatherings of individuals.

“Small drones are relatively cheap to acquire and maintain compared to crewed helicopters,” says Robert Bunker at C/O Futures, a US-based security consulting firm. “I do start to see the drone ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] system as a model for other global cities.”

“The goal is definitely to model for other police forces globally, to allow them to see how this is the shortest and most efficient way to cope with emergencies,” says an Airobotics spokesperson.

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