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AR Drone Overlays Deliver Real-time Data to First Responders

In the wake of recent wildfires, hurricanes and other natural disasters, more and more public safety agencies are using commercial drones to boost their search and rescue operations. Within the public sector, the growth of drones is being driven by advances in software, hardware and trust from regulatory agencies.

The Centre for the Study of the Drone at Bard College said that approximately nine hundred and ten local and state police, fire, sheriff and emergency service agencies in the US have obtained drones. The centre estimated that the growth of public safety agencies with drones increased by eighty-two per cent in the last year.

Drones are More Than Just Eyes in the Sky

Primarily, agencies made use of drones for the purpose of having an eye in the sky. But, with the addition of augmented reality, the drones are offering beyond a simple video. They are providing better situational awareness and additional data. Edgybees, a 2-year old start-up has been assisting public safety agencies with their search and rescue efforts after disasters like, Hurricanes Michael, Florence and Irma, and also wildfires in California.

Edgybees’ augmented reality software offers real-time overlay to the video feed for a drone, which provides mapping data and allows officials to collaborate with first responders on the ground, in addition to communicating through a 2-way radio.

Founded in 2017, the origins of the company was not in the domain of public safety. The software was developed initially as an AR video game for drone owners where users could fly the physical drones, via virtual hoops.

The CEO of Edgybees, Adam Kaplan, said that a number of public safety, defence and commercial officials saw that they were the 1st company to do a real-time augmented reality on a drone and remarked that the biggest issue in flying a drone is situational awareness. These officials came to Kaplan with requests to be like Waze in the air where it would be possible to overlay street maps and even drop markers or such points of interests, along with identifying people. That is how the company went in a completely different direction with the technology.

Kaplan further said that they built something that is a bit like ARCore or ARKit, but not on a phone. Instead, something that is flying around very fast. Besides drones, Kaplan said that their software can even work with video feeds from cameras on helicopters, cars, surveillance cameras and also body cameras. The CEO that recently they had even tested the software with a feed from an AGV (autonomous ground vehicle).

Another great feature of their software is that drone pilots are able to send text messages with the markers and photo from the video feed to the officers who are on the ground.

Whilst Edgybees is dealing with fun things, such as drones, augmented reality and computer vision, what Kaplan is really happy about is the fact that they are delivering cutting-edge technology that can really make a huge difference.

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