Drone Video Assisted Team Member Coordination in Tactical Situations

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During training for or in emergency response situations, it's useful to know team members' positions in real-time, but can be difficult to do so. Losing someone’s position could have undesired impacts, such as a failure to contain/apprehend or friendly fire situations. Radio frequency transmitters worn by team members can serve as beacons, but as radio frequency transmission can be triangulated, it may be undesirable to have signal emanating from a possible target in some situations. Moreover, in some situations, ad hoc “fusion teams” are deployed, sometimes with the component teams having different tactics and with limited or no cross-team radio communication, with a representative coordinator for each component team. “SkySpotter” seeks to employ unmanned aerial systems with cameras to help mitigate the problem.

The patent pending SkySpotter technology aims to employ unmanned aerial systems’ video feed in order to assist coordinators assess the positions of the deployed team members. The coordinator enters an identifier for each team member into the SkySpotter app and prints off a unique optical marker, such as a letter/number/shape/QR Code, for each team member to wear on their helmet and/or vest. After the team fans out and the coordinator or drone pilot launches the drone, the camera feed is continuously fed to the application in real-time. As the application detects markers from the drone in the video feed, using the drone’s GPS position, altitude, camera gimbal orientation, size/shape/position of the optical marker, and other information is used to project an approximate position for the team member wearing that optical marker, an approximate position for that team member wearing that optical marker is projected. Detected team members’ most recent position is displayed on a map, aiding the coordinator or drone pilot to keep with periodic updates on team members’ position as they and the drone move around.


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  • Name:
    John Lindsay
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  • Patent status: