Non military use of unmanned systems - emergency services and other Government departments

Yokel

LE
The discussion about the dismantling of decommissioned nuclear submarines, and the use of robots and remotely controlled systems for nuclear dismantling made me think about the use of unmanned vehicles for all sorts of safety and security applications. Remotely Operated Vehicles have been used in places like the North Sea for years, and dealing with terrorist IEDs is another application we alee all familiar with. But what of wider roles?

About ten years ago I saw a documentary about unmanned vehicles being used by the emergency services to test for contamination in the event of an industrial accident or a CBRN incident. I wonder what happened to that project?

I also saw a report of Border Force using an Unmanned Surface Vessel to augment its cutters:

 
There've been mutterings about using unmanned lorries to deploy and retrieve cones for lane closures on motorways. Given that these things would be trundling along less than a couple of metres away from manned vehicles nipping along at cough 70 cough mph, I can't see it ever ending in anything but tears sooner rather than later.

Not that that will stop some clever contractors conning Highways England out of a 6 figure sum to develop such a beast.

On the other hand, using quad (or more) rotors to carry out remote inspections of structures is already happening. I believe some police forces are using them as well.
 

Yokel

LE
I know that various emergency services and the like are using remotely piloted vehicles for this and that, but I was thinking and ground and waterborne vehicles. For example the Royal Marines and others are experimenting with a small robot that can move around buildings and beam pictures outside. Could the Fire and Rescue Service use this to find the seat of a fire?
 

Kevll@r

Old-Salt
There's autonomy and unmanned.

Unmanned has a MITL. Autonomy is quite different and insanely complicated.

It boils down to decisions- and the consequences,

Right now, no- the software isn't robust enough and frankly the public won't have it.

10-15 years, first "cleared to kill" autonomous battlefield machine.

Now- search and rescue, med drops, humanitarian.. yes.
 

tgo

War Hero
The discussion about the dismantling of decommissioned nuclear submarines, and the use of robots and remotely controlled systems for nuclear dismantling made me think about the use of unmanned vehicles for all sorts of safety and security applications. Remotely Operated Vehicles have been used in places like the North Sea for years, and dealing with terrorist IEDs is another application we alee all familiar with. But what of wider roles?

About ten years ago I saw a documentary about unmanned vehicles being used by the emergency services to test for contamination in the event of an industrial accident or a CBRN incident. I wonder what happened to that project?

I also saw a report of Border Force using an Unmanned Surface Vessel to augment its cutters:

That ROV needs more seats, those refugees will never all fit,
 
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Yokel

LE
There's autonomy and unmanned.

Unmanned has a MITL. Autonomy is quite different and insanely complicated.

It boils down to decisions- and the consequences,

Right now, no- the software isn't robust enough and frankly the public won't have it.

10-15 years, first "cleared to kill" autonomous battlefield machine.

Now- search and rescue, med drops, humanitarian.. yes.

Why would the emergency services be on a battlefield?

Years ago, I was working at a small company that also did some general fabrication. One of the things assembled was a hand held rocket line for marine lifesaving. Point at the man overboard, squeeze trigger, and fire a line.

Why not use a simple UAV or USV for that? I am assuming that the person struggling in water still has a higher temperature than the ambient water and air, so the sensors need could be quite simple. It would not replace the life boat or life guards, but it would help keep the survivor alive.
 

endure

GCM
There've been mutterings about using unmanned lorries to deploy and retrieve cones for lane closures on motorways. Given that these things would be trundling along less than a couple of metres away from manned vehicles nipping along at cough 70 cough mph, I can't see it ever ending in anything but tears sooner rather than later.

Not that that will stop some clever contractors conning Highways England out of a 6 figure sum to develop such a beast.

On the other hand, using quad (or more) rotors to carry out remote inspections of structures is already happening. I believe some police forces are using them as well.


;-)
 

Kevll@r

Old-Salt
Why would the emergency services be on a battlefield?

Years ago, I was working at a small company that also did some general fabrication. One of the things assembled was a hand held rocket line for marine lifesaving. Point at the man overboard, squeeze trigger, and fire a line.

Why not use a simple UAV or USV for that? I am assuming that the person struggling in water still has a higher temperature than the ambient water and air, so the sensors need could be quite simple. It would not replace the life boat or life guards, but it would help keep the survivor alive.
I think I may have used the device you mentioned!

For SAR missions and general coastguard work- brilliant. They're already in use.

They're even used to deliver med supplies in Africa.
 

Yokel

LE
What I was talking about was the 'Thrombots' that the Royal Marines and others are experimenting with for urban operations. Could the emergency services use them for initial searches of buildings instead of putting Police, firefighters, or paramedics at risk?
 
What I was talking about was the 'Thrombots' that the Royal Marines and others are experimenting with for urban operations. Could the emergency services use them for initial searches of buildings instead of putting Police, firefighters, or paramedics at risk?
MzI4MDcwMg.jpeg

The fFrench used this at the Notre Dame fire.

At the Skoda car factory they have their own fire fighters. They use a drone fitted with thermal cameras if required.
Drone.jpg


This is being tested by the ambulance service. Some sort of 'external difribulator' is attached to it. It is designed to get to casualties in hard to reach areas.
System-structure-of-Ambulance-Robot-a-Front-view-b-Side-view.png

 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
View attachment 541749
The fFrench used this at the Notre Dame fire.

At the Skoda car factory they have their own fire fighters. They use a drone fitted with thermal cameras if required.
View attachment 541751

This is being tested by the ambulance service. Some sort of 'external difribulator' is attached to it. It is designed to get to casualties in hard to reach areas.
View attachment 541753

Pretty standard kit for most fire services now.

My company has owned a search and rescue ROV for nearly 20 years and we’ve been using thermal imaging on UAVs for nearly 5 years.
 

Yokel

LE
Are the emergency services able to make use of UAVs/RPVs (not 'drones'- grrrr) for things such as situational awareness? I am thinking of things such as watching rioting crowds to direct resources, or to locate the seat of a fire using infra red cameras.

What about ground systems to check for chemical leaks, radiation, and other hazards?
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Are the emergency services able to make use of UAVs/RPVs (not 'drones'- grrrr) for things such as situational awareness? I am thinking of things such as watching rioting crowds to direct resources, or to locate the seat of a fire using infra red cameras.

What about ground systems to check for chemical leaks, radiation, and other hazards?

Yes, they are currently used for all this stuff, situational awareness being a prime example where live images are streamed back to a control room.

While you could use the thermal camera for finding hot spots in fires, it’s much more useful for finding people.

Search and rescue type situations or looking for someone hiding in woodland.

I used one of our UAVs to do a deer survey on an industrial site recently. There were a number of deer trapped inside the site, roaming around the woods.

We used the thermal camera to spot them all and count them.

Edit: as for radiation leaks and chemical hazards, UAVs can do this but where this sort of hazard exists there will be other ground based systems already in place.

I’ve done rad mapping with a drone before and it’s very accurate, but is more about long term bigger picture stuff, than immediate situational awareness.
 

Ayatollah

Old-Salt
There've been mutterings about using unmanned lorries to deploy and retrieve cones for lane closures on motorways. Given that these things would be trundling along less than a couple of metres away from manned vehicles nipping along at cough 70 cough mph, I can't see it ever ending in anything but tears sooner rather than later.

Not that that will stop some clever contractors conning Highways England out of a 6 figure sum to develop such a beast.

On the other hand, using quad (or more) rotors to carry out remote inspections of structures is already happening. I believe some police forces are using them as
Practical testing is being done in the US, whereby an autonomous artic of 52 ft long is allowed to drive its self on the interstates. There is a driver in the seat in case of a problem, And General Motors tested autonomous cars around San Diego in convoy for about 12 years. they were all individual but connected so if one braked all braked. It apparently cut down the space between vehicles and was said to reduce congestion?
Oh yes they had a driver in case of a problem, who could be often seen reading a newspaper or other material !
 

Yokel

LE
Yes, they are currently used for all this stuff, situational awareness being a prime example where live images are streamed back to a control room.

While you could use the thermal camera for finding hot spots in fires, it’s much more useful for finding people.

Search and rescue type situations or looking for someone hiding in woodland.

I used one of our UAVs to do a deer survey on an industrial site recently. There were a number of deer trapped inside the site, roaming around the woods.

We used the thermal camera to spot them all and count them.

Edit: as for radiation leaks and chemical hazards, UAVs can do this but where this sort of hazard exists there will be other ground based systems already in place.

I’ve done rad mapping with a drone before and it’s very accurate, but is more about long term bigger picture stuff, than immediate situational awareness.

Interesting stuff. What about something like an overturned tanker lorry on the motorway, when it would be useful if @BossHogg and his oppos to test to see the chemicals are leaking, or if it is safe to approach?

Would an infra red camera on a UAV be useful for looking for a survivor in water, in the same way as one carried by a manned helicopter.
 
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Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Interesting stuff. What about something like an overturned tanker lorry on the motorway, when it would be useful if @BossHogg and his oppos to test to see the chemicals are leaking, or if it is safe to approach?

Would an infra red camera be useful for looking for a survivor in water?

Fire brigades have other quicker and more easily deployable kit for DIM (detection identification and monitoring).

Also chem lorries have the contents written on the side so you’ve already got a fairly good idea what the hazards are.

Due to the fact that DIM kit is also used to identify explosives / IEDs etc. The specific details of it and how it works is not something you’ll find in the public domain, but I can tell you that drones won’t bring much to the party.

It’s worth remembering that drones are not the answer to everything. They’re very useful for certain tasks but most of the time more simpler methods will suffice. They’re also fairly limited in when and where they can be used. As soon as you start becoming reliant on UAVs to do jobs, you very quickly lose the ability to do those jobs in high winds, rain, congested air space etc.

In my capacity as a reservist, a few years back I was working with an organisation called SALMO. They do all the maritime salvage work for the MOD. They had a really Gucci little remote controlled submarine for doing below waterline surveys on damaged ships.

It was very expensive and very cool.

However it only worked in perfectly calm and clear water. A camera on a long stick did a much better job and was the preferred method. The submarine never came out of the box.

Where I currently work we jumped into the UAV world with both feet. We invested a lot of cash in people and kit and now we use them for all sorts of jobs. We are definitely an industry leader and possibly a world leader in certain areas of UAV use. I regularly speak at conferences about them.

However, there are a lot of very tall chimney type structures where I work. A lot of the jobs we use UAVs for could actually be done by fixed cameras on top of these chimneys. There are many benefits to this approach: The cameras are cheaper, they’re always switched on, lots of cameras can be operated by one person in a nice warm room, the time to deploy them is zero because they’re already there, you aren’t restricted on lens size because it doesn’t have to fly, there is no risk of crashing one into a person or piece of equipment that could explode etc.
 
My old brigade uses drones/toy planes for observation and ir surveillance on the fire ground.

The problem with the present tech is size. Too big for small jobs, too small for big jobs.

Specialised industries would need to provide their own equipment as the local authority would not fund it.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
My old brigade uses drones/toy planes for observation and ir surveillance on the fire ground.

The problem with the present tech is size. Too big for small jobs, too small for big jobs.

Specialised industries would need to provide their own equipment as the local authority would not fund it.

Yep. The public purse simply cannot keep up with the innovations in the UAV world.

We do a lot of collaboration with our local police force and fire brigade (plus another more specialist police force) and we (a civilian organisation) are miles ahead in terms of kit and training.

As you say, you need a range of different UAVs for different tasks. One size does not fit all. For an effective UAV capability you need small ones that are quick to deploy, big ones with Gucci long range cameras, medium ones that can stay in the air longer, mahoosive ones that can carry rad mapping kit.

And of course this means lots of training and stick time for the operators (more expense).

It all adds up to a big bill that our emergency services can’t afford.
 

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