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Advanced drone technology showcased at Webster Fire District 7 Station 5

by Amber McDown

Representatives from various public safety agencies, including Wildlife and Fisheries, Homeland Security, multiple sheriff’s departments, and the Webster Parish Police Jury, gathered at Webster Fire District 7 Station 5 on January 12 for a demonstration of the cutting-edge X10 drone by Skydio.

The X10 drone boasts remarkable features that can significantly aid departments in various scenarios. Noteworthy capabilities include the ability to operate in darkness, rain, and proximity to power lines. Its AI assistance streamlines the learning curve, recognizing surroundings, avoiding obstacles, and autonomously capturing data. The drone’s lenses can read a license plate from a distance of 800 feet, detect thermal signatures, and generate 3D images of designated locations.

The versatility of the X10 makes it suitable for diverse tasks such as search and rescue, exploration of disaster areas, and inspection of infrastructure like bridges. One standout feature is its multiple secure access options. While it can be operated directly with a remote control, users can also direct it via a browser, providing unlimited distance between the operator and the drone.

During the demonstration, individuals had the opportunity to remotely fly drones located in a warehouse in California. This feature holds potential for local agencies to hand off control to someone in dispatch, allowing officers in the field to focus on tasks without affecting the drone’s mission.

At a previous meeting, Webster Parish Office of Homeland Security Director Brian Williams expressed enthusiasm, stating, “It’s a step up from the drone I’ve been flying for District 7. It’s got some cool features that law enforcement can utilize, and it can allow us to recreate a 3D image of a major incident, whether it’s law enforcement-related or disaster-related, that we can then send to the state, FEMA, or whoever.”

Following the indoor demonstration, attendees took the drones outdoors on a windy, winter day, experiencing hands-on flying. The drone’s ability to avoid crashing made it accessible to participants regardless of their experience level, showcasing its user-friendly design.

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