Houston firm launches autonomous drone platform for 911 calls

paladin drones first responders

Houston-based drone startup Paladin has spent the last three years living with first responders to build an autonomous system that runs itself, so that emergency personnel can focus on saving lives. Now, the company says it’s ready to unveil the system publicly and provide instant situational awareness to even more first responders across the United States.

Paladin’s offerings are divided into two products, focusing on drone hardware and software management alike. The first is Knighthawk, an autonomous, unlimited range drone purpose-built for first responders to deploy to 911 calls. The second product is called Watchtower, a streaming, autonomy, and equipment management platform that directly interfaces with and controls the Knighthawk.

Explains the company:

With a 90 second response time, unlimited range, and best-in-class flight times, our system is ready out of the box to deploy to 911 calls and provide instant situational awareness. We’re proud to be working with fire and police departments across the country who are already utilizing our fully integrated system, and are excited to be onboarding new cities every week.

Here’s a video that shows how Paladin’s drone and software tech solutions work:

Drones as first responders

The idea of drones arriving at the scene of an incident before first responders is not really new. Chula Vista, the second-largest city in San Diego County, California, has been using DJI drones as first responders since 2018. Meanwhile, beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flights started in March 2019, making the program a massive success.

At the Chula Vista Police Department, an experienced teleoperator controls the drone camera or sensors to coordinate the resources and tactics via radio – just like an incident commander or a manned helicopter observer would. This allows the first responders to focus all energies on the emergency incident itself, rather than the drone. Live video feeds, meanwhile, are provided to first responders, supervisors, and managers alike.

Read more: Canada: Police drone hits plane approaching runway; ‘major damage’ reported

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