In Focus

Caption Cattle station training (Aviassist archives)

Whisper it, but drones are already patrolling our most vulnerable facilities day and night, and, in many cases, using AI to fly and monitor bad guys. Here, we speak to Department 13 chief executive Lee Croft about how the technology works, who’s using it and why it’s going to change the nature of the security industry.

 There’s a fair few markets out there currently using drones for security. Here in Australia, we certainly have government, private, commercial and facilities management. Think of critical national infrastructure. A lot of those will be private companies using drones to protect their assets and to ensure they have fast response to incidents. There are lots of facilities management organisations across the globe, who are using these types of drones for augmenting security postures for their existing client bases. There are also organisations such as correctional facilities (prisons), and hardwired lockdown facilities. And on the defence side, it’s very much around managed security that is autonomous around personnel. Since launching in July, growth has been exponential in the amount of inbound inquiries now people know that this technology is available in Australia and can be delivered here locally.

Another example would be our water systems, dams and hydroelectric power. There’s a lot of that around Australia. That’s a real-life application for drones like this because people don’t want to put people out in remote areas. Firstly, it’s not good for the carbon footprint of the world to have somebody go and drive there, and secondly, an automated response can get eyes on a situation quickly. There’s uses for AI again in terms of obstacle avoidance and recognition and anomaly detection. So, if it’s looking at a blank piece of water, for example, and then spots something, it can self-launch.

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