Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for First Responders: Technology, Buying Guide and Operating Concept

First Responders need information and they need it fast. Whether they’re police officers rushing to a crime scene, fire fighters faced with a wall of smoke or medics sorting out a mass casualty event, they never know enough about what’s ahead.

As a result, First Responders employ some of the most sophisticated technology found outside the military. UAVs are following the proven pattern of military technology migrating to civil agencies; some are already flying for First Responders. But very little military technology is suitable for direct transfer – buying military systems is almost always a big mistake.

This new report overviews unmanned aircraft technology, especially the UAVs that will prove most useful for First Responders. It also details the political, bureaucratic and privacy ‘back stories’ that form the public’s context in the most demanding European and North American nations.

More importantly, this report includes two unique features that First Responders and their suppliers won’t find anywhere else:

  • A detailed Buying Guide (with checklists) designed to walk First Responders through early planning for an unmanned aviation unit. It proves that simply operating ex-military unmanned aircraft will almost always fail.

  • An illustrated Operating Concept created for a real, diverse and geographically varied jurisdiction. It forms the basis for critical acquisition decisions and the new unit’s success.

Together, these features will bring the reader to a level of understanding that will allow them to intelligently advise sworn leaders and community policy makers through a rational (not emotional) process of evaluating UAV capabilities relative to their needs and resources. This is not hype or a sales pitch – this is a detailed education with extractable guides and illustrations.


1. Introduction
1.1. Scope
1.2. What are First Responders?
1.3. What are UAVs?
1.4. Forecast Scenarios
1.4.1. Why Scenarios?
1.4.2. Scenario I: Little or No Access to Civilian Airspace
1.4.3. Scenario II: Easy Access to Civilian Airspace
1.4.4. Scenario Notes
1.5. Research Team and Methods
1.6. Who Will Benefit from this Buying Guide?
1.6.1. Policy Makers & Analysts
1.6.2. Procurement Managers
1.6.3. Field Commanders
1.6.4. Users
1.7. Language, Disclaimer and Further Information
1.8. How to Extract High Quality Graphics

2. Executive Summary
2.1. What are UAVs for First Responders?
2.1.1. Who will these UAVs Help?
2.2. UAV Acceptance
2.2.1. Privacy Issues
2.2.2. Jobs
2.3. UAV Markets
2.3.1. UAV Buying Guide
2.4. Major Findings
2.4.1. Finding 1
2.4.2. Finding 2
2.4.3. Finding 3
2.4.4. Finding 4
2.4.5. Finding 5
2.4.6. Finding 6
2.4.7. Finding 7
2.4.8. Finding 8
2.4.9. Finding 9
2.4.10. Finding 10
2.4.11. Finding 11
2.4.12. Finding 12
2.4.13. Finding 13
2.4.14. Finding 14
2.4.15. Finding 15
2.4.16. Finding 16
2.4.17. Finding 17
2.4.18. Finding 18

3. Current UAV Technologies
3.1. UAV Manufacturing Nations
3.2. Stratospheric UAVs
3.3. Jet Stream UAVs
3.4. High Altitude UAVs
3.5. Medium Altitude UAVs
3.6. Low Altitude UAVs
3.6.1. Remotely Controlled (RC) Aircraft
3.7. Micro UAVs
3.8. Nano UAVs
3.9. Aerostats
3.10. Electric Fuel Cells

4. Operating Concept
4.1. Planning Considerations
4.1.1. Safe Operations
4.1.2. Geographic Situation
4.1.3. Political Situation
4.1.4. Realistic Situation
4.1.5. Limit Ambitions
4.2. Sample Operating Concept
4.2.1. Minimum Capabilities
4.2.2. Step-by-Step Operating Concept
4.2.3. Operating Concept Illustrations

5. Buying Guide
5.1. Requirements List
5.1.1. Maximum Allowable Flying Time
5.1.2. Weather
5.1.3. Airspeed
5.1.4. UAV Operator Capabilities
5.1.5. Lessons to Learn
5.2. UAV Base Site Selection
5.2.1. Automation
5.2.2. Vehicles
5.3. Storage and Launch Systems
5.3.1. Recommendation
5.4. The Bottom Line
5.4.1. UAVs are strange and scary.
5.4.2. With an Aviation Unit
5.4.3. Without an Aviation Unit
5.4.4. Validate Seller Claims
5.4.5. Learn from Early UAV Adopters


Appendix A – Glossary
Appendix B – Police Chief’s Proposed UAV Code of Conduct
Appendix C – AUVSI UAV Code of Conduct
Appendix D – UAVs for First Responders Summary Article
Appendix E – European Union working to Integrate UAVs into Europe’s Airspace

List of Tables and Figures

Table 1 – Number of Commercial UAV Operators
Table 2 – Joint UAV Group Classification (JCOE CONOPS)
Figure 1 – US States Restricting UAVs for Law Enforcement
Figure 2 – American States Competing to Test UAVs
Figure 3 – Impacted Clutha Pub
Figure 4 – SkySentry Aerostat System
Figure 5 – UAV Manufacturing Nations – by Capability
Figure 6 – Titan Aerospace Solara UAV
Figure 7 – Stratospheric UAV Airship Design
Figure 8 – Global Observer: Stratospheric UAV Design
Figure 9 – Heron TP: Jet Stream UAV
Figure 10 – Anka: High Altitude UAV
Figure 11 – Shadow: Medium Altitude UAV
Figure 12 – Uqab II: Low Altitude UAV
Figure 13 – Model A-10 Fire Firefighting Aircraft
Figure 14 – German Soldier Hand Launching a Micro UAV
Figure 15 – Mesa County, Colorado, USA Draganflyer X6
Figure 16 – Aerial Electric Visual Assistant (AEVATM)
Figure 17 – Black Hornet Nano UAV
Figure 18 – Nighthawk IV
Figure 19 – Conventional Large Aerostat Design
Figure 20 – Improved Large Aerostat Design
Figure 21 – Aerostat Designed For Low Wind Drag
Figure 22 – XFC: Micro UAV
Figure 23 – El Paso County, Colorado, USA
Figure 24 – Political Response Time Priorities
Figure 25 – Three and Ten Minute Response Coverage, No Wind
Figure 26 – Typical Operation, Overhead View
Figure 27 – Typical Operation, Side View
Figure 28 – Aerovironment Qubes Police Micro UAV
Figure 29 – D-Dalus Cyclodial Propulsor UAV
Figure 30 – Model Radio Controlled Helicopter for Police

Source:Research and Markets


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