Police Scotland has unveiled a new aerial drone system to help in searches for missing and vulnerable people.
The remotely-piloted aircraft system (RPAS) can see things we can’t to try to work out where people are.
It uses advanced cameras and neural computer networks to spot someone it is looking for – from “a speck” up to 150 metres away.
Its recognition software is compact enough to be run on a phone, with the technology learning as it goes.
“The drone itself has very special sensors on it,” said Insp Nicholas Whyte, of Police Scotland’s air support unit.
“There’s a very highly-powered optical camera which can allow us to see things quite clearly from a good height. Also, there’s a thermal imaging sensor which detects heat.
“We’re there to find people. People who need our help or people who are lost.”
The system is the result of a collaboration involving Police Scotland, the technology multinational Thales and the University of the West of Scotland (UWS).
The matchmaker in the partnership is CENSIS, one of Scotland’s eight not-for-profit innovation centres.
The CENSIS remit is to bring together private businesses and the public sector to exploit advances in sensing, imaging and the so-called Internet of Things.
Drones are an increasingly common sight. Outwardly, this one looks no different apart from – almost inevitably – a flashing blue light.
But the data this drone gathers is processed in real time. The software can discern a person, animal or vehicle from just a handful of pixels in a huge moving colour image.