April 15, 2024
The OFFICER team tested the Teledyne/FLIR SIRAS drone with favorable results.

In case you’ve missed it, technology has come a long way in the past few decades and the evolution of it is accelerating. Many of the more veteran officers, often in leadership positions, are slow to embrace technology, and admittedly, it can be a little overwhelming. That said, having field tested the Teledyne FLIR SIRAS PRO UAV, more commonly referred to as a “drone,” we were very impressed.

This article appeared in the March/April issue of OFFICER Magazine. Click Here to subscribe to OFFICER Magazine.

Prior to testing, there was some familiarization that had to occur. The SIRAS isn’t a $30 WalMart toy drone that you can simply go out and fly around for fun. Oh, and by the way, you can’t even do that if you plan on making any money flying that toy drone. To properly and legally fly a drone, you need an FAA Part 107 pilot’s license. While that’s not difficult to earn, we didn’t have time prior to testing the SIRAS, so we acquired the services of such a licensed pilot. Mr. Jaffray Stephenson holds that requisite license and has been piloting drones for approximately 20 years, with an additional 20 years of previous experience flying remote-controlled aircraft.

Doing the research on the SIRAS before flying it, we learned some very important information. The SIRAS is not of Chinese manufacture. That’s vitally important since some states have prohibited government use of Chinesemanufactured drones. Florida, as the example, has such a law and Teledyne FLIR has about four dozen drones in use in various counties in that state. The SIRAS also has a cost of $9,700, putting it under the $10K threshold often presenting greater budget approval challenges for law enforcement agencies.

Also, many drones come with geo-fencing programmed in that prohibits them from flying in or near restricted areas without jumping through a few hoops first. The last thing law enforcement needs is a drone they can’t fly in certain areas without (potentially) hours of notice first. Another strength of the SIRAS is that it has no geo-fencing. The agency flying it is responsible for ensuring that it’s flown legally and within any FAA (or other) restrictions. A few last points that mattered: The SIRAS is 100% cyber-secure. It complies with the Florida restrictive drone law. It complies with similar federal laws. The data captured by the drone is 100% safe ON the drone but can be streamed to a command center. The payload (camera, in this case) can be easily switched out for future upgrades or different needs and the camera itself is a three-gimble system allowing for the camera to be moved on the vertical axis, horizontal axis and even tilted left or right.

With that information in hand and having charged up the batteries as well as the controller that all came in the bundle with the SIRAS drone itself, Mr. Stephenson and I headed out to a nearby hobby aircraft airfield/flying space. It was clear day with temperatures in the mid-forties (Fahrenheit). With the SIRAS user’s manual at hand, we set up the drone, went through the requisite preflight procedure and then took off.

Nearby was a hunting area and we’d seen a couple cars in the parking lot when we passed it. Using the SIRAS’ FLIR capability, we found the hunters in the nearby woods. It was a unique experience to look down from an altitude of over 300’, zoom in with the IR camera and be able to see one hunter in a tree stand and another, with his son, walking a path toward his chosen location. The camera allows for IR and Thermal as well as normal visibility, with the IR zoom up to 5X while the visible spectrum zoom was up to 128X. The winds that day were 8-10 knots from the NNE, but the SIRAS stayed stock still as we panned the camera to search for the hunters and then yawed the SIRAS around to take a short video of Mr. Stephenson waving at the drone!

The SIRAS proved a capable tool, easily demonstrating all of the published features and we’re proud to award it the OFFICER “Tested— Field Rated” seal of approval.

This article appeared in the March/April issue of OFFICER Magazine.

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