Author Archives: Justin Adams

Drone Demonstration Conducted In West Orange

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An Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) drone demonstration was recently conducted at the Essex County Emergency Management Headquarters for the January meeting of the county Chiefs of Police Association. The exhibition was presented by officers from the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office where the technology is used in search and rescue operations.

Sheriff Fontoura stated that the aircraft system technology would be a key step at enhancing public safety and law enforcement in Essex County in the 21st century.

“These drone systems may be highly beneficial for law enforcement purposes,” Sheriff Fontoura said. “Their ability to carry out search and recuse operations, crime scene analysis, and special operations will continue to allow us to keep the residents of our county safe no matter what the circumstances.”

Animal House/G3 HZ 1/26-2/15

Typically, police UAS systems are fitted with optical zoom or thermal cameras. They are an affordable alternative to helicopter or airplane support, they can be used to monitor crowds for threat protection and they may be employed for advance mapping of an event at a critical infrastructure site. Video taken by UAS systems give investigators another angle they may have overlooked. UAS system are lightweight and average flight time is thirty minutes per battery.

“Based upon what we’ve seen today, UAS systems appear to be very beneficial to law enforcement. They can be used in places where it is too high to climb and they can be used in situations that may prove to be too dangerous to police officers. UAS could be utilized if a hiker gets lost, in water rescue and search operations or in traffic accident reconstructions,” noted North Caldwell Police Chief Mark Deuer, president of the Essex Chiefs Association.

The sheriff’s office and the municipal police departments will individually consider if UAS systems are appropriate and cost-effective for their respective departments.

Sheriff Armando Fontoura (4th from right) assists Monmouth County sheriff’s Detective John Esposito maneuver a police drone at the Essex County Emergency Management Headquarters in West Orange. Also on hand for the demonstration are (left to right) Essex Undersheriff Kevin Ryan, Monmouth Det. Kevin O’Neil, United States Secret Service Special Agent In Charge Mark McKevitt, Essex Lt. John Tully and Essex Dets. Darryl Johnson and Keith Weirzbicki.

Advanced drone algorithm guides drones through city streets like a car


Currently, drones use some of the same systems your car’s navigation system uses to find its way around a city’s streets. But this is all about to change thanks to the latest drone algorithm development.

Drone technology is changing the way we live across the world, from photography to fire prevention, there really isn’t a segment of the global economy that is not currently being impacted by the rise of drones.But have you ever wondered how the technological marvels navigate the world around them with such ease and grace?

Thanks to an advanced DroNet algorithm, drones are able to navigate around city streets much like an automobile would – all without a driver!

drone algorithm

This might be why drones are dangerous, but you’d be wrong in that assumption. Sure, nothing is perfect, but drone navigational technology is at the forefront of unmanned aerial systems.

Research conducted by a team from the University of Zurich and the National Centre of Competence in Research Robotics in Switzerland created a way for drones to navigate open spaces autonomously using an algorithm, causing the drones to behave like cars in traffic.

The head of the University of Zurich’s Robotics and Perception Group Davide Scaramuzza told publication Digital Trends: “We have developed an algorithm that can safely drive a drone through the streets of a city and react promptly to unforeseen obstacles, such as other vehicles and pedestrians.”

The name for the algorithm, DroNet, is an abbreviation for Drone Network. DroNet uses a deep neural network in guiding the drone and its name references this underlying technology.

The algorithm enables the drone to differentiate between moving objects and those that are standing still. Using these indications the drone can independently navigate while avoiding unnecessary collisions.


In explaining the technology, Scaramuzza said: ““With this algorithm, we have taken a step forward toward integrating autonomous drones into our ‘everyday life…Instead of relying on sophisticated sensors, DroNet only requires a single camera — very much like that of every smartphone — on a drone.”

The difference between drones using DroNet and traditional drones is that traditional drones utilize a global positioning system (GPS) for navigation, a system that can become harried and start to fray at low altitudes. So long as your drone is above a city’s buildings, GPS works great, but the minute your drone dips into the city streets, GPS can become a bit of a hazard for consumers and pedestrians.

DroNet incorporates the behavior of bicycles and cars into its algorithm to power the drone’s behavior. To get this behavioral data, Scaramuzza and his team collected data from realtime bicycles and vehicles as they navigated city streets to inform the algorithm’s development.

drone algorithm

The DroNet algorithm could see use in a variety of consumer-facing and industrial fields, such as food delivery or emergency services. The algorithm will need to undergo further refinement before it can be deployed in a commercial setting but Scaramuzza and his team are confident they are on the right track. A recent missive detailing the project was outlined in the journal IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters.

Building a Drone Program for Public Safety

For immediate release



Dr. Robin R. Murphy, Texas A&M

David Merrick, Florida State University


Lost hikers found, swimmers rescued with a deployed floatation device, wildfires located from above. Headlines about emergency responders using small, unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) are increasingly common around the world, but the need for accurate, reliable information to inform the many decisions that must be made to implement this exciting new technology effectively can be hard to come by, and expensive.


Texas A&M now offers a five-hour, 0.5 CEU credit online course designed to enable emergency managers to make strategic decisions about starting a sUAS program. The course is unique in that it is not about flying, passing a Part 107 license, or using mapping software but rather about how to define missions for sUAS, train and equip for those missions, and understand the legal, regulatory, and community support ramifications. It specifically covers the types of missions that different small UAS have been used for, what are the practical considerations in buying a small UAS or working with a drone company, what kind of manpower and administrative impact sUAS will have, and best practices for training and deploying. The course distills lessons learned by the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue members’ deployments to more than 15 disasters, starting with Hurricane Katrina (2005) and including Fukushima Daiichi, as well as nearly 400 sorties at Hurricanes Harvey and Irma–all at the request of local agencies, and closely coordinated with existing assets. While aimed at emergency professionals, the course offers valuable insights for independent operators looking to serve emergency responders. The course can be taken online, or in conjunction with hands-on classes that are also being offered. The course costs $200, and is the first in an online certificate program being co-developed by Texas A&M Humanitarian Robotics and AI Laboratory and Florida State University Center for Disaster Risk Policy in conjunction with the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue, a nonprofit organization created to study and implement robotic technology in disaster and emergency response.


To learn more or register, see  Contact for more information about the course and online delivery mechanisms. Contact for classroom versions of the class or to have a tailored, hands-on class.


The Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue is a nonprofit corporation established in 2001 by Texas A&M, and is now an independent entity, the world’s leading organization in deploying, promoting, training, documenting, analyzing, and disseminating scientific knowledge about the use of unmanned systems for disasters. See for more information or contact Dr. Robin Murphy,

Legislative Bill 693 provides immunity from civil prosecution for emergency responders who damage an “unmanned aircraft,” or drone, in the performance of their duties so long as they reasonably believe the drone was interfering with the performance of their duties. The bill also makes it illegal to use a drone to peep or spy into residences in a way that would violate normal expectations of privacy. Law enforcement officers, too, are offered protections relating to the use of drones in some circumstances.

Body of missing Carol Smalley believed to have been found

PUBLISHED: 07:48 10 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:22 10 January 2018

A body believed to be that of Carol Smalley has been found. Picture: Norfolk Police

A body believed to be that of Carol Smalley has been found. Picture: Norfolk Police

A body found at an RSPB nature reserve is believed to be that of a 54-year-old woman who went missing from a Norfolk beach.

A body of a female was found on a beach at Minsmere Nature Reserve in Suffolk on Tuesday.

While police said formal identification of the woman’s body is due to take place, it is believed to be that of 54-year-old Carol Smalley, from Lincolnshire.

Her next of kin have been informed.

Police said the death is not being treated as suspicious and a file for the coroner will now be prepared.

Mrs Smalley was last seen on Wednesday, January 3 with her clothes and a bag found on a beach at Hopton.

Her disappearance had led to extensive searches with police even using a drone.

Previous searches involved lifeboat crews and Coastguard teams, a Lowland Search and Rescue Team and the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service.

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