Tags: Drones

SkyBound Rescuer trials automated drone service for improved transport experience in the West Midlands

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SkyBound Rescuer introduces automated drone service with Transport for West Midlands

Public safety drone company, SkyBound Rescuer, is testing a new fully automated drone service in partnership with Transport for West Midlands (TfWM).

The aim of the test is to identify and resolve transport issues more quickly across bus, train, road, and tram networks in the West Midlands.

SkyBound Rescuer has installed an automated drone station in Walsall to enhance the local public’s transport experience.

Why the collaboration between SkyBound Rescuer and TfWM matters

Currently, TfWM utilises over 2,500 fixed CCTV cameras across the West Midlands region to monitor the bus, train, road, and tram networks.

This extensive surveillance network operates in conjunction with the Regional Transport Coordination Centre to manage transport disruptions in the area.

TfWM also monitors town centre CCTV cameras on behalf of Walsall Borough Council, making them the perfect partner for SkyBound Rescuer to trial their automated drone service.

The addition of SkyBound’s drone technology will bolster TfWM’s existing estate of CCTV cameras.

It will not only enhance oversight but also improve response to live incidents, such as road traffic collisions, and mitigate issues like public transport delays.

The drone technology behind SkyBound Rescuer’s new service

SkyBound Rescuer has developed software called the SkyBound Coordinator that automatically creates data-driven drone mission plans.

This software has been integrated with automated drone station (ADS) technology, making the drone fully self-sufficient.

This combination allows for fully automated end-to-end flights, with humans monitoring the flight and imagery, resulting in a more cost-effective and responsive drone service.

During the trial, the drone flights are overseen by a qualified remote pilot and an onsite remote safety pilot.

SkyBound also created a 3D model of Walsall town centre and a database of transport points of interest (POIs) to ensure safe transit routes for the drones.

A promising start for the automated drone service in the West Midlands

The first week of the trial was successful. SkyBound’s automated drones responded almost three times faster to transport emergencies than the National Police Air Service.

In one incident, an altercation in the town centre was observed by TfWM’s CCTV operators.

SkyBound Rescuer was instructed to use the drone to monitor the situation, demonstrating the technology’s real-world applicability.

Gemma Alcock, Founder & CEO of SkyBound Rescuer, said: “We’ve conducted hundreds of test flights in preparation for this trial service to optimise performance and safety.

“We at SkyBound Rescuer focus solely on drone use cases that can improve society, so we’re excited to be using our technology to benefit the Walsall community.”

Kerry Blakeman, Head of Security and Policing of TfWM, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with SkyBound Rescuer to explore the potential of automated drone technology which will revolutionise the CCTV industry.

“The team at SkyBound Rescuer have been meticulous in their planning of this trial to deliver a safe and effective trial to allow us to evaluate the benefits of the ADS.”

SkyBound Rescuer and TfWM are evaluating the outcome of the trial and looking forward to potential expansion across the West Midlands region.

The aspiration is also to create a national network of automated drones for rapid response to high-risk areas.

IFSJ Comment

The introduction of SkyBound Rescuer’s automated drone service with TfWM is a notable advancement in public safety and transport management.

By integrating drone technology with existing surveillance systems, there is significant potential to enhance response times, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

This trial exemplifies how innovation in drone technology can serve the greater public interest, making it a significant development to follow closely.

About SkyBound Rescuer and Transport for West Midlands

SkyBound Rescuer is a team of experienced emergency managers, aviators, and technologists that specialise in automating drones for public safety.

SkyBound aims to optimise drone performance through their data-driven approach to problem solving.

The company is led by female founder, Gemma Alcock, an award-winning innovator and thought-leader in the use of drones for public safety.

Transport for West Midlands currently have a dedicated CCTV control room with more than 2500 cameras covering the bus, train, road, and tram network.

The control room is independently assessed annually to ensure it is compliant with the Surveillance Commissioners Code of Practice to British Standard 7958. The control room’s annual renewal was granted in April 2023.

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