Daytona Beach Police Department launching aviation program for UAS



In the coming months, small UAS will be used to assist Daytona Beach police officers and firefighters during a variety of tasks, including evaluating hazardous areas following hurricanes or other disasters, and finding lost nursing-home residents.

This will be possible thanks to a new aviation program, called the DBPD aviation program, that the Daytona Beach Police Department (DBPD) is launching in collaboration with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Worldwide and Daytona Beach campuses.

Embry-Riddle is known for launching the nation’s first Unmanned and Autonomous Systems Operations program back in 2011.

“We are so blessed to have the worldwide leader in aviation right here in our back yard,” says Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri.

“To partner with them, you can’t get any better.”

The program, which is expected to launch by the end of this year or early next year, will include five aviation program officers and two UAS. The officers are receiving training from Embry-Riddle so that they can obtain their FAA certification to fly UAS.

For the academic part of the program, Embry-Riddle is leveraging the online learning capability from its Worldwide Campus. For the hands-on learning portion of the program where officers learn how to fly and operate UAS, the university is leveraging faculty from the Daytona Beach Campus.

DBPD aviation officers are currently taking online courses offered through Embry-Riddle’s Office of Professional Education and Embry-Riddle Worldwide, while they wait for approval from the FAA to pursue hands-on UAS flight experience.

The DBPD aviation program will build upon what faculty members from the Daytona Beach and Worldwide campuses learned from a recent study away program in Oklahoma.

During that program, students used UAS to survey damage following an EF2 tornado in Elk City, Oklahoma.

In another part of the state, students used UAS to locate a lost herd of cattle from massive flooding.

According to Embry-Riddle, this effort was believed to be the “nation’s first-ever test of an emerging UAS technology (“augmented reality” software) to benefit first responders at disaster scenes.”

The DBPD aviation program will not infringe on the privacy of citizens, as Anthony Galante, assistant professor of aeronautical science, says that the program will “strictly adhere to Department of Justice guidelines concerning respect for civil liberties.” The program will also be “completely reactive.”