Rain ruined the NYPD’s first chance to use security drones at a major event

The New York Police Department (NYPD) discovered the limitations of current drone technology on New Year’s Eve when rain forced it to cancel plans to use the machine as part of its security operation during the celebrations in Times Square.

NYPD Chief Terence Monahan confirmed in a tweet that the police department’s quadcopters wouldn’t be taking to the skies because of the lousy weather that had descended on the city.

The plan had been to use the camera-equipped drones to monitor the huge crowds celebrating the arrival of the new year in Times Square, but the inclement weather posed a risk to the drones’ stability, and the last thing the NYPD wanted was to have one of its flying machines falling from the sky and possibly onto someone’s head.

It would have been the first time for the NYPD to deploy its drones for security purposes at a large-scale event.

The NYPD’s drone equipment is comprised of 11 DJI Mavic Pro quadcopters, 2 DJI Matrice 210 RTK quadcopters, and 1 DJI Inspire 1 quadcopter, but all of the remotely controlled drones were grounded during Monday night’s celebrations.

When the NYPD first announced its plan to use drones as part of its New Year’s Eve security operation, Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said the machines would offer “visual aid and flexibility” with their ability to travel at speed over a large crowd to any spot deemed a location of interest, while at the same time providing support for 1,225 portable and stationary cameras.

But now the police department will have to wait another day to deploy its drones at a major event.

The decision to ground the drones for fear of the machines malfunctioning in rain and strong winds reveals the technology’s current limitations when it comes to using them for security at events involving large crowds.

The NYPD announced in December 2018 that it would begin using drones for some of its work, which besides event security could also include search-and-rescue operations, crime scene investigations where the location is hard to access, hostage situations, and incidents where hazardous materials are present.

The equipment is operated by licensed police officers of the Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU), each of whom has received extensive training, the NYPD said.

Product Review

Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the simplest entry into a smarter doorway

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 may lack the style and sophistication of premium door-dingers, but few can match its simplicity and versatility. The device, available in both wired and wireless configurations, is easy to set up and adds instant…
Home Theater

Plex is the latest player to contemplate the subscription streaming game

With massive reach thanks to its client app being supported virtually every media device on the planet, Plex is now looking at the future of its media curation platform. A future that may include free and subscription services.
Emerging Tech

Drones: New rules could soon allow flights over people and at night

With commercial operators in mind, the U.S. government is looking to loosen restrictions on drone flights with a set of proposals that would allow the machines greater freedom to fly over populated areas and also at night.
Emerging Tech

Wish you could fly? You totally can with these top-of-the-line drones

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and Kittyhawk.io could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.
Emerging Tech

A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff for being bad at their jobs

Japan’s oddball Henn na Hotel has fired half of its 243 robot staff. The reason? Because these labor-saving machines turned out to be causing way more problems than they were solving.
Emerging Tech

CERN plans to build a massive particle collider that dwarfs the LHC

CERN already has the world's biggest particle accelerator. Now it wants a bigger one. Meet the 9 billion euro Future Circular Collider that will allow physicists to extend their study of the universe and matter at the smallest level.
Emerging Tech

Forget fireworks. Japan will soon have artificial meteor showers on tap

Tokyo-based startup Astro Live Experiences is preparing to launch its first artificial meteor shower over Japan, serving as a showcase of its prowess in the space entertainment sector.

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
Emerging Tech

Glowing space billboards could show ads in the night sky

Look up at the night sky in 2020 and you might see an ad for McDonald's floating among the stars. A Russian startup is working on a project that uses a constellation of small satellites in low-Earth orbit to create glowing ads.
Emerging Tech

New brainwave reader tells teachers if students are concentrating

Massachusetts-based startup BrainCo has developed brainwave-reading headbands which can reportedly help reveal if students are concentrating in class. Here's how they're being used.
Emerging Tech

Fears about kids’ screen use may have been overblown, Oxford researchers find

Many people take it as gospel that digital technologies are harmful to young people’s mental health. But is this true? A recent study from the University of Oxford takes a closer look.
Emerging Tech

Meet Wiliot, a battery-less Bluetooth chip that pulls power from thin air

A tiny chip from a semiconductor company called Wiliot could harvest energy out of thin air, the company claims. No battery needed. The paper-thin device pulls power from ambient radio frequencies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell signals.
Emerging Tech

Hexbot is a modular robot arm that does everything from drawing to playing chess

Who wouldn’t want their own personal robot arm to do everything from laser engraving to competing against you in a game of chess? That's what Hexbot, a new modular robot, promises to deliver.