Flying Lion and safety avionics technology innovator Iris Automation will provide Drone as First Responder (DFR) programmes with enhanced airspace awareness, adding Iris Automation’s Casia G ground-based detect and alert system to Flying Lion services.

With over 22,000 DFR flights logged to date, Flying Lion works with leading law enforcement agencies to provide rapid emergency response and aerial assessment including for Chula Vista, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills Police Departments.

In order to comply with current FAA requirements, Flying Lion and these DFR programs have been utilising human remote pilots in command (RPICs) and visual observers (VOs) to allow for BVLOS operations in their cities.

While this has been necessary to comply with FAA certificate of authorizations (COAs), it is not optimal for ongoing or large-scale DFR operations, which enable immediate dispatch of drones in response to a 911 call for the purpose of real-time aerial situational awareness, and to support ground units to enhance first responder safety.

With Casia G, the next generation of DFR programs will have the capability to create a volume of surveilled airspace to conduct drone operations without the need for human visual observers.

Casia G is a small, passive, low-power weather-hardened device that can be installed where there is a clear view of the sky like a rooftop, street light pole, cellular tower or other vertical structure.

Casia G detects cooperative aircraft using Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) and non-cooperative aircraft using Iris’ patented computer vision and artificial intelligence software.

Once an aircraft is detected, two concepts of operation are possible:
1) Casia G alerts the Remote Pilot in Command (RPIC), providing the classification and location of the detected aircraft, who then initiates an avoidance manoeuvre and resumes the mission once the detected aircraft is clear of the operational area.
2) Casia G sends an automated collision alert to the uncrewed aerial system’s command software, resulting in the system automatically executing a pre-programmed avoidance manoeuvre.

Flying Lion president and founder Barry Brennan commented: “Flying Lion is proud to partner with Iris Automation to provide a safer environment to conduct DFR operations. Casia G technology for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone flights breaks new ground for public safety – it not only saves time and resources but also allows first responders to better protect the communities they serve.”

Multiple Casia G nodes can be deployed to cover any operational area, enabling drones to cover an entire municipality. DFR program managers can then have BVLOS operations of multiple UAS from multiple launch points.

In addition, the ability to fly routine BVLOS missions enables centralised management and operations of the UAS and integration into 911 dispatch and real-time crime centre operations.

There are more than 18,000 municipal police departments in the USA, and only 200 of them have access to an aerial asset. BVLOS operation of drones enables the remaining 17,800 departments to not only have access to an aerial asset, but within existing budget constraints.

Iris Automation CEO Jon Damush added: “Casia G provides an inexpensive and effective way for customers to take advantage of BVLOS flight through increased airspace awareness without the use of visual observers.”

Iris Automation and Flying Lion will be exhibiting at the National Public Safety UAS Conference, March 14-15, 2023 in Williamsburg, VA.

Last April, Iris Automation was granted a second waiver for BVLOS autonomous operations on behalf of the City of Reno, a participant in the FAA’s Beyond programme, by utilising Casia G.