by Tara Walker
A new heat sensing unmanned aerial system (UAS) is now being used by the Grand County Sheriff’s office. On April 10, Lieutenant Jeff Bauckman demonstrated the DJI Matrice 210 UAS (Unmanned aerial system) with FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) and answered questions.
The new DJI Matrice 210 UAS has heat sensing capabilities that can be used for search and rescues and to assist with fire mitigation. It has 17-inch propellers for stable flight in strong winds and a dual battery power system to heat batteries while flying in sub-zero temperatures. It is also weather and water resistant.
The board of county commissioners approved purchase of the unmanned aerial system (UAS) drone for the sheriff’s office in December. The DJI Matrice 210 was purchased for around $35,000 according to Lieutenant Bauckman. The Matrice 210 was used recently at the house fire last week behind City Market to identify hot spots through the smoke and assist with fire suppression.
Sheriff Brett Schroetlin explained in December to the Board of County Commissioners, “The UAS can save lives because the quicker we can find people, the better. It can help with fires and finding hot spots. We can get a better aerial view of an area. It gives us eyes in the sky to better see people with heat imaging.”
Lieutenant Bauckman has been trained and certified on usage of the UAS in Grand County. He is currently certified by FAA with a remote pilot license. Deputies Nathan Rector and Luke McDonald are familiarizing themselves with the UAS and plan on attaining their license as well.
Citizens cannot shoot down or prohibit a UAS in their airspace. Bauckman explained that the FAA controls the airspace and allows the flight of UAS up to 400 feet. In Denver, UAS would have to get clearance from air traffic control, but that is not needed in Grand County. Bauckman said, “It is our policy to prohibit the use of UAS for random surveillance of citizens. We use the UAS for search and rescue and fire suppression the majority of the time, but there are other uses as well.”