AEE Mach 4 Thunderhorn ™ UAV System
Crowd control, rescue operations, safely communicating during a dangerous situation. Traditionally these activities put officers and firefighters in harm’s way.
However, thanks to drone technology, officers and firefighters can now perform these necessary and risky duties safely and even more effectively.
Small Package, Big Performance
Weighing in at just 9.5 pounds, the Mach 4 might look small, but it measures up when it’s in the air. With a maximum speed of 40 mph, range of 5 Km, and a flight time of 40 minutes—the streamlined Mach 4 can be used for extended periods whether it’s for crowd control, firefighting, or search and rescue operations.
For New York Fire Department (FDNY) Lt. David Melendez, who leads the department’s robotics team, the Mach 4 has been a welcome addition to his fleet of drones.
“The Mach 4 handles well, and our pilots like the controls,” he says, noting that the Mach 4 flies like a helicopter and its camera produces a very smooth, cinematic picture. “It’s a clear and steady picture at all times.”
The Mach 4 can be equipped with either a DAT 9 Zoom Camera or a 4K Data Camera, which can be switched out quickly. The DAT 9 is specifically designed for capturing detail at a distance.
The drone provides a number of additional operational advantages for departments, such as the FDNY, which operates in one of the most densely packed urban areas in the country. The Mach 4’s stability makes it less prone to updrafts caused by the canyon effect of large buildings and isn’t susceptible to EMI interference. Melendez also noted that the Mach 4 has already proved to be able to handle extremes in temperatures that are experienced in the New York City Metro area.
The Mach 4 also doesn’t have a GEO lock, so it is always ready to fly on your command. It is equipped with GPS—including pre-loaded HERE maps—an accelerometer, barometer, gyro, and magnetic compass.
Particularly important for police operations, data collected is not uploaded to the cloud, so data integrity is protected and only available internally.
Ready for Liftoff
With the Mach 4 being a recent addition to the FDNY’s drone fleet, Melendez and his team of 12 active pilots and 5 co-pilots are still testing it, but it has performed well in several test scenarios and a real-life situation when there was a crane collapse and Mach 4 was used to evaluate the safety of surrounding buildings and keep tabs on several workers who needed to be rescued.
In addition to its easy handling and its powerful camera, the Mach 4 is also available with the company’s Thunderhorn Megaphone, which allows officers and firefighters to communicate messages in real-time for crowd control, rescue, and other operations.
Melendez noted that during a test scenario with a Mach 4 equipped with a Thunderhorn he was a bit concerned about the sonic reach of the megaphone. He didn’t need to worry, he said, he heard the megaphone message over a mile away.
For police operations, the Thunderhorn is well suited for use in crowd dispersal and in search and rescue operations.
Melendez said that he expects the Mach 4 to be put into full use by the FDYNY next year, particularly in rescue type operations.
Seeing the Benefits of Drones
Melendez notes that the FDNY has seen numerous benefits from using drones. They’ve been particularly useful in finding hot spots in buildings and complex fires, giving the incident commander the kind of stand-off distance or perspective to better evaluate a situation before sending personnel in to fight a fire.
It’s also assisted in making firefighting more efficient and safer. Melendez noted how the FDNY has used its drones to find the seat of fires in complex situations such as brush fires and junkyards, cutting down on the number of firefighters, equipment, and time needed to fight these blazes.
The FDNY has also worked cross-departmentally with the New York Police Department (NYPD) drone team in various operations.
Looking ahead, Melendez hopes to incorporate the triad of robotics—ground, marine, and drone— together in a coordinated operational effort for rescue operations. He expects the Mach 4 equipped with a Thunderhorn to take center stage on the drone side.
The Mach 4 takes only minutes to set up before it can be airborne. For those pilots who fly drones professionally, we recommend that pilots obtain an FAA 107 license.
Training on the Mach 4 can be provided by AEE.
The complete ready-to-fly Mach 4 System with camera payload, battery, case, airframe, controller, and Thunderhorn Megaphone system is available now.