The FAA recently approved permits for the first commercial use of drones. So later this summer, two drones will be used to survey ice floes and migrating whales in the Artic; as well as, support emergency response crews monitoring oil spills. The potential use of drones beyond the battlefield was made clear this week at an event hosted by the Naval Post Graduate School.
Out near a runway on Camp Roberts, just north of Paso Robles, Richard Guiler holds a small, four propeller drone in the palm of his hand. “You set what altitude you want it, so I’ll set it at like 80 feet. And then all I have to do is hit that button, and off it goes,” said Guiler as he launches it into the sky. The drone is called the Instant Eye. It was designed by Boston based Physical Sciences Incorporated where Guiler leads Tactical Robotics. As it hovers overhead, Guiler looks down at a monitor showing the view of the drone’s three cameras. “Now I can see around the trees. I can see back at us over here,” said Guiler.
He and his team are at Camp Roberts as part of the Naval Post Graduate School’s quarterly field experimentation event where NPS researchers, private industry and government agencies collaborate on emerging technologies. Guiler explains Physical Sciences designed the Instant Eye for soldiers in the battlefield. It’s something they could carry in their pack and put up in the air to get a look on rooftops or over walls. But over the years of developing this technology new potential uses have emerged, especially in the areas emergency and disaster response. The Instant Eye can carry lightweight attachments. “We discussed being able to bring a cell phone to someone who is trapped someplace, so that they can communicate with first responders. Thermal cameras, so you can look for someone in rubble or look for people in the forest at night,” said Guiler.