Tasmanian drones find guns and chase vehicles

written by Adam Thorn | October 21, 2020
Tasmania police’s new M300 drones

Tasmania Police has added three new types of drones to its 22-strong fleet – and the devices have already helped locate stolen guns, find missing vehicles and chase down cars refusing to pull over.

The state government also said it now has 20 CASA-certified pilots operating the UAVs with another five to be trained soon. The reinforcements come due to a $400,000 investment in the technology by the state government.

The new drone types are specifically designed to have increased flight times, remote area capability, 3D modelling and the ability to drop objects into remote.

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Acting Assistant Commissioner Robert Blackwood said the drones are particularly useful in chasing down vehicles that evade his team.

“The drone is a really useful tool to then follow that vehicle without the police required to be in close proximity,” said Blackwood. “We can then see where the vehicle goes and send police to that location and apprehend the offender at a safe time.

“The drones save a lot of manpower out walking and help in going to locations that are difficult to attend on foot.

“The larger drones can drop items at scenes, including a mobile telephone, transporting rope, as well as food and water and first aid equipment. It can even take an inflatable life vest if someone is in a water situation.

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“When a road would normally be closed for hours we can deploy a drone, get 3D modelling and imaging of the scene and reopen the road quicker.”

The drones are now used by departments including Road and Public Order Services, Forensic Services, Search and Rescue and Marine, as well as specialist and tactical units.

During the last financial year, Tasmania used drones in 227 operations to support police investigations.

In June, Australian Aviation reported how NSW Police said it was going to use drones to keep watch on the NSW–Victoria border when it shut.

“Someone could choose to swim across the river, walk through the bush, there are dirt tracks. We’ll be using drones and other aerial surveillance at the same time,” said Police Commissioner Mick Fuller.

“There will be police. There will be aerial and other surveillance 24/7 right across the border. Look, at this stage we know there is still an $11,000 fine and up to six months in jail.”

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