Arlington, Tx., police are testing small unmanned aircraft designed to take high-resolution video and photos of traffic accidents, hostage situations, pursuits of suspects, and other emergency situations too dangerous to send personnel, says the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Data from the testing, which will continue through January, will help law enforcement agencies across the nation evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of using such remote-controlled surveillance devices for public safety purposes, Police Chief Theron Bowman said.
The aircraft, which look like oversized toy helicopters, can also be equipped with night-vision cameras or thermal-imaging equipment to help officers locate suspects or victims thrown from crash sites. “These devices are literally eyes in the sky to us,” Bowman said. “They have the potential to help law enforcement and the department become more efficient working with just a few people instead of having to employ many people” in certain situations. For example, Bowman said the aircraft could quickly take hundreds of photographs of a multi-vehicle pileups, allowing a roadway to be opened hours sooner than if an accident investigator was taking pictures from the ground.