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Impossible Aerospace Reveals Air Support, A Drone Solution for Public Safety Agencies that Could Support COVID-19 Containment Efforts

BY Zacc Dukowitz
26 March 2020

U.S.-based Impossible Aerospace just announced the release of Air Support, a drone that can be stationed on a rooftop and deployed as needed in response to 911 calls.

According to Impossible Aerospace, Air Support will allow cities to respond to emergencies “ten times faster than they ever have before.”

When a 911 call comes in, Air Support’s drone is deployed and controlled remotely from a command center. It flies to the scene of the incident and hovers there, providing real-time visual data for first responders who are en route.

Photo credit: Impossible Aerospace

In a promotional video (shown below) Impossible Aerospace depicts the drone not just relaying visual information but also pursuing potential criminals, shining a spotlight on a man running at night to help law enforcement see and apprehend him.

Here are the components that come with Impossible Air Support:

  • UAS. Drone comes with bright lights, loudspeaker, and the ability to carry emergency supplies on board.
  • Command center. Provides real-time situational information to police, firefighters, and other first responders to prepare them for what to expect when they arrive at a scene.
  • Training and ongoing servicing. This kind of product is going to need support, training, and ongoing maintenance, and IA has built these into the offering.
  • FAA compliance paperwork. Impossible Aerospace says “We take care of the FAA.” We’re not sure exactly what this means, but it sounds like the company may provide support to navigate COA/Part 107 decision-making and related regulatory hurdles to help public safety agencies incorporate drones into their work.

According to Impossible Aerospace, Air Support is already being used by public safety agencies in California, where it is “in the early phases of deployment.”

Impossible Air Support

Impossible Aerospace’s Public Safety Agency Work

Impossible Aerospace has been creating UAS solutions for public safety agencies for a while now. One of its most notable contributions has been the creation of drones with record-breaking flight times (its US-1 drone has a battery life of 75 minutes).

Longer flight times have several potential use cases throughout the drone industry. For Impossible Aerospace, the focus has been on ways that longer battery life can help in public safety scenarios such as standoffs, monitoring ongoing fires, or searching for people lost in the wilderness, just to name a few.

Photo credit: Impossible Aerospace

Last year, police in Cambell, CA used the Impossible Aerospace’s US-1 drone during a prolonged standoff.

The drone provided crucial visual data that helped diffuse the situation without any loss of life. Learn more about the standoff and how the US-1 helped.

COVID-19, Impossible Aerospace, and the Looming Ban on Chinese Drones

Right now could be Impossible Aerospace’s moment.

As public safety agencies throughout the world turn to drones to help in the fight to contain the coronavirus, Impossible Aerospace may be uniquely positioned to help those agencies located in the U.S.

Here’s why.

According to a recent study conducted by Bard’s Center for the Study of the Drone, 90% of all drones used by public safety agencies in the U.S. are manufactured by DJI.

But rumor has it that an executive order is currently under consideration in the White House that would ban all Chinese-made drones from use in governmental agencies (read this article for some background on the potential ban).

Photo credit: Impossible Aerospace

If the ban is extended to cities, counties, and state-level agencies, the majority of public safety agency drone programs throughout the U.S. would suddenly be grounded.

Which would be terrible timing, because right now is when public safety agencies are just starting to gear up to use drones in their efforts to contain COVID-19.

Here in the U.S., the first reported use of drones in containment efforts recently came out of Chula Vista, CA, where the Chula Vista Police Department plans to deploy drones equipped with loudspeakers to spread public safety messages.

CVPD have purchased two DJI Matrices to support these efforts—two drones that they wouldn’t be able to use if the Chinese drone ban goes into effect and is extended to cities.

And this is where Impossible Aerospace comes in.

In coverage of the CVPD rollout, Spencer Gore, CEO of Impossible Aerospace, has said that he’s “working like crazy” to help equip law enforcement agencies with drones in anticipation of a growing need to use them in coronavirus containment efforts.

What we saw in China, and what we’re probably going to see around the world, is using drones with cameras and loudspeakers to fly around to see if people are gathering where they shouldn’t be, and telling them to go home. It seems a little Orwellian, but this could save lives.

– Spencer Gore, CEO of Impossible Aerospace

In this coverage Gore has emphasized that Impossible Aerospace’s hardware is made domestically.

This is a key detail: if DJI drones are suddenly unavailable, Impossible Aerospace may be in a unique position to help close the gap.

That being said, the prospect of getting new drones into the hands of 1,420 public safety agencies—90% of the 1,578 in the U.S. according to Bard’s Center for the Study of the Drone—sounds daunting, to say the least.

And there’s another potential issue, which is the question of whether Impossible Aerospace’s drones are completely free of Chinese components.

According to an industry source, Impossible Aerospace’s drones may use some Chinese components, which could complicate its production process since the proposed ban will include not just Chinese drones but Chinese drone components.

Are you excited about the ways that Impossible Aerospace’s Air Support could help public safety agencies do their work? Share your thoughts in this thread on the UAV Coach community forum.

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