June 24, 2024


An Unmanned Community

Drone as First Responder: Pearland TX Gets BVLOS Waiver to Operate Without Visual Observers

Using Iris Automation’s Casia G Pearland PD Expands DFR Program to Include BVLOS Operations

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

Using Iris Automation’s Casia G ground-based air surveillance system, Pearland Police Department has secured a certificate of authorization (COA) to operate its drone as first responder (DFR) program beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operation, removing the need for human visual observers (VOs).

DroneLife · Drone – As – First – Responder – No – Visual – Observer – Pearland – TX

Pearland PD is now able to immediately dispatch autonomous drones in response to emergency calls, allowing for rapid situational awareness of the scene of the incident. This allows operators to relay critical information to other first responders, and results in greater safety for officers approaching the scene.

“In a climate where personnel shortages are impacting first responders across the nation, having a fully BVLOS drone as first responder program greatly enhances resource allocation while maintaining a high level of situational awareness for first responder safety,” said Pearland PD Assistant Chief of Police Chad Randall.

In order to obtain approval for its Drones as First Responder (DFR) program, Pearland PD  utilized Iris Automation’s Casia G system as an alternative means of compliance to the 91.113 “see and avoid” requirement. A major step in scaling drones for public safety operations, this is notably the first Part 91 approval secured using Casia G.

A passive, ground-based air surveillance system, Casia G establishes a zone of monitored airspace without needing to integrate any hardware onto the drone itself. Through the use of computer vision technology, Casia G notifies the Remote Pilot in Command (RPIC) of any intruder posing a collision risk, who then has the drone maneuver to safety.

“Pearland PD has been operating Casia G systems since last summer, collecting and analyzing performance data and submitting to the FAA, which resulted in this approval,” said Iris Automation CEO Jon Damush. “It’s a testament to the department’s commitment to fully utilizing drones to provide more efficient services across its region and an important example of how a thoughtful CONOP combined our ground-based system mitigates air-collision risk enabling BVLOS operations. We’re proud to be a component of Pearland’s safety case, and look forward to working with them and other DFR programs to provide these breakthrough capabilities.”

“This landmark approval for Pearland PD is a game-changer,” said Charles Werner, director of Drone Responders Public Safety Alliance. “It enables drones as first responders to grow exponentially, helping emergency responders to maximize resources, while making communities across the nation safer.”

Part 91 governs a wide range of aviation operations, from private recreational flying to corporate charter and other commercial operations. Pearland secured the approval by developing a concept of operation (CONOP) utilizing technologies to mitigate risks, including Casia G and DroneSense’s situational awareness software.

At the National Public Safety UAS Conference March 15, a panel on the next generation of Drone as First Responder (DFR) led by Flying Lion‘s Steven Katz, included former Pearland TX officer Brandan Karr, now with DroneSense.

“2023 is the year of DFR”, said Katz.   Brandon Karr explained the details and significance of the authorization.  “No human is required to see the drone at any time from launch to recovery,”  said Karr.  The agency is required to have technology infrastructure in place, however, that can “clean the airspace” of both compliant and non-compliant aircraft.  With no rooftop observers required, the agency will be able to scale their program without as much of an investment in personnel – and can cover more of the jurisdiction.

“Huge shout out to the FAA for working with us on this,” said Karr.

Read more:

Miriam McNabbMiriam McNabb

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.


Subscribe to DroneLife here.

See Also