This year has seen the continued success of several mature public safety drones and the introduction of a couple more. As an overview of the current options, we have listed five drones designed for public safety missions, all of which share common characteristics, including thermal cameras, portability, and at least 30 minutes of flight time. Despite the similarities, consider their unique features as you choose the aircraft that’s best for your agency.
Compiling a list of the best public safety aircraft is difficult because what’s best for one operator may not be for another. In light of this, we must clarify that this isn’t a definitive guide. Rather, it’s a list of aircraft we would recommend to most public safety agencies; this list is in no particular order and some can be equipped to night vision drone capabilities.
DJI M30 T
The newest of the drones listed here, the M30 T, represents DJI’s latest entry into the sector with features important to public safety operators. It comes in two variants: the M30 and the M30 T, which includes a powerful thermal camera.
- IP55 Rating with an IP54-rated controller
- 41-minute flight time
- 16x optical zoom
- 640p thermal resolution
- OcuSync 3 transmission
For an in-depth look at the DJI M30 series, read our previous article on it here.
Another exciting feature of the M30 is its compatibility with DJI’s FlightHub 2 software and Dock station.
FlightHub 2 is the company’s upgraded fleet management and mission planning cloud platform for enterprise operations. With collaborative features like live annotations and feed-streaming, the software aggregates data from the aircraft into one portal for better decision-making. FlightHub 2 also allows operators to ensure automated missions at the highest quality with map previews.
The Dock, one of DJI’s recent innovations, aims to be a physical enabler of automated missions. A large box with retractable doors, the Dock protects and charges the aircraft between missions. This increases the efficiency of operations, carrying out normal human functions like launch and recovery autonomously. Furthermore, it can be done miles away from the operators, who send commands wirelessly.
DJI Matrice 300
The largest aircraft of DJI’s Enterprise line, the Matrice 300 is popular with many agencies for several reasons, including the ability to carry multiple payloads.
- IP45 Rating
- 55-minute flight time
- 15-km (9.3 mile) range
- Hot-swappable batteries
- 1080p video transmission
- Control handoff
It’s been over two years since the release of the Matrice 300, and in the time since then, it has grown to become one of the most prominent public safety drones around. One of the reasons behind its popularity is payload flexibility. There are several payloads compatible with aircraft, including:
- Zenmuse H20: laser rangefinder payload
- Zenmuse H20-T: laser rangefinder and thermal payload
- Zenmuse H20N: night vision and thermal payload
- Zenmuse P1: photogrammetry payload
- Zenmuse L1: LiDAR payload
In addition to the DJI payloads listed above, operators have several options, including searchlights, IR spotlights, speakers, and drop kits. Moreover, the ability to mount multiple payloads makes it one of the most versatile platforms available to public safety. Operators could, for example, carry a thermal camera, a drop kit with a life jacket, and a loudspeaker to respond to stranded hurricane victims.
Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced, EVO II Enterprise, ANAFI USA
The following three aircraft all land in the same category of drones, being much smaller than the M30 T or Matrice 300. For a small, rapidly deployable platform, consider one of the following drones.
The Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced, EVO II Enterprise, and ANAFI USA share a lot of similar specifications regarding size, sensors, and flight performance. However, this does not mean they are the same aircraft; each aircraft offers some distinct advantages. For an in-depth look at these three aircraft, check out our articles on the best police drones, the Autel EVO II Enterprise, and the Parrot ANAFI USA.
Both the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced (M2EA) and the Autel EVO II Enterprise offer the following:
- Minimum of a 30-minute flight time
- Dual sensor payload (4K video and 640p radiometric thermal)
- 4 modular accessories (speaker, spotlight, strobe, RTK module)
- Obstacle avoidance
In the same size category as the M2EA and EVO II Enterprise, the ANAFI USA has similar capabilities. It also offers a similar flight and sensor performance. However, it also touts an IP53 rating and is Blue UAS listed. Both certifications should give operators peace of mind. While the IP rating enables pilots to fly in changing weather conditions, the Blue UAS listing certifies it for federal use, following specific data-security guidelines.
All of the aircraft we’ve mentioned are capable in their own right and are excellent solutions for public safety agencies. It all comes down to choosing the drone that matches your operational requirements. Determining which features are most important will make the decision-making process much easier. Take note that VTOL aircraft, such as the Dragonfish drone or any airframe similar to the Autel Dragonfish are purposely excluded from this list as they serve supplemental purposes.
Backed by industry knowledge and operational experience, the team at FLYMOTION can help you find the solution that’s right for you. To get started visit our website or contact a representative.