Americas Police

York police drones to slash road-closure times


By: Riannon Westall

York Regional Police say they are now equipped with an unmanned aerial vehicle to help shorten the process of investigating collisions and get traffic moving again promptly after a crash.

Roads are closed for a significant amount of time after a collision because of the traditional “detailed electronic mapping process” of a scene, police say.

Using a drone to capture aerial images could reduce road closure time by eight to 10 hours.

“The U.A.V. is a welcome addition to our investigative tool box,” said chief of police, Eric Jolliffe, in a press release.

The Aeryon Sky Ranger UAV was purchased for $125,000 from the company Aeryon Labs, according to Constable Andy Pattenden.

“The majority of that cost is for the camera equipment that’s on board,” Pattenden said.

The cameras are high-resolution and can capture images in the daylight or at night.

The U.A.V. is handled by two trained operators using a tablet computer. All operators must be licensed through Transport Canada, and, although York Regional Police have three operators, they plan to train more.

York Regional Police have four different batteries for the drone, each lasting for 50 minutes of flight time.

The drone can withstand winds up to 90km/h and temperatures from -30C to 50C, police said on their Twitter account.

Halton Regional Police Service, the OPP and the RCMP already have U.A.V.s, Pattenden says.

York Regional Police say they plan to expand the use of the U.A.V. to help in searches for missing people and in incidents involving hazardous materials to limit the exposure of first responders.

The drone has already been used for security sweeps in venues for the Pan Am Games in York Region.

“The U.A.V. was used to go overtop and map [the venues], look for any suspicious packages and explore rooftops of buildings,” Pattenden said.

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