OPP drones: A fleet of 11 made by a Waterloo firm was temporarily grounded after one malfunctioned and was lost Wednesday, police say

By Dale Carruthers

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle - UAV

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – UAV

Dude, where’s my drone?

That’s what provincial police are asking after the force lost one of its unmanned aerial vehicles in a rural area near St. Thomas.

The drone’s disappearance — blamed on a technical malfunction — prompted the OPP to ground temporarily its entire fleet of 11 drones made by Waterloo-based Aeryon Labs Inc.

An OPP officer was test-flying the drone in Southwold Township Wednesday afternoon when he lost contact with the mini-aircraft, Elgin OPP said.

“It was flown up the standard 100 metres, then it went into GPS lock, which caused all communication with the operator’s tablet to cease,” Sgt. Dave Rektor said, adding the drone drifted northeast before disappearing from view.

The drone’s software had just been updated before its final flight, police said.

Aeryon is working closely with the OPP to help find the drone and pinpoint the problem, said David Proulx, the company’s vice-president of product.

“Early-stage investigation points to an isolated failure that does not impact the rest of the OPP fleet, and the OPP fleet as of this time has been restored to operational status,” Proulx wrote in an email Thursday.

Aeryon bills itself as a supplier of drones for police, military, wildlife managers and emergency responders.

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