Nov 3 2013
Early this afternoon, eleven team members assembled on Georges Lane, in the vicinity of Wilderswood, Horwich, to watch a demonstration of a mini UAV (Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle) multicopter with a real time downlink full colour video capability. (Gimble mounted camera)
The multicopter was being demonstrated to the team by Ray Clift (A former Bolton MRT member from the late 1960’s, also known to the team from his time at GMCFS then GMFRS Bolton North Fire Station) and Dave Webster of Mediatown limited.
Our team members present included Life Vice President Alan James, Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE, Treasurer Martin Banks, Equipment Officer (Base / Catering) Mike O’Brien, Michael Wakerley, Team Webmaster Paul Brain, Ashley Kelshaw, Kris Kelshaw, Phil Crooke, Samantha McKay and Diane Blakeley, all having travelled to the demonstration in two team Land Rovers and our Incident Control Vehicle.
The demonstration was to showcase the capabilities of the mini UAV multicopter (Specifically a DJI Flame Wheel F550 model) and how such might be applicable within the Bolton MRT.
The minicopter on demonstration was equipped with a real time video downlink to a fully portable monitor screen (Links were available, easily set up to the laptops in our Incident Control Vehicle) with ‘monitor goggles’ also demonstrated. (Thoughts of Robocop – or perhaps that should be RoboRescuer, came to mind whilst our members were wearing these goggles !)
The minicopter had a GPS tracker system, which if radio control contact was lost with it, returns the multicopter safely back automatically to its last take off point.
The demonstration included utilising the multocopter to search along a moorland gully line, on Wilders Moor, where team member Samantha McKay had secreted herself completely out of sight of those present.
With a impressive fast forward flying speed (Apparently circa 40mph) the mini UAV was very quickly on scene, and located Samantha within minutes of launching, even being ‘waggled’ by operator Dave Webster, whilst hovering over Samantha to indicate to her she had been located.
Next the minicopter was used to search either side of a long stretch (Circa 1km) of moorland drystone wall, completing the entire hillside tasking in a matter of minutes.
Besides the obvious interest in this demonstration by all the team members attending, a great many walkers showed interest, with apologies to those on Wilders Moor who found themselves being overflown by the minicopter during the two search trials.
After a full hour of demonstrations, all present were left very impressed by what they had seen, some lucky members even getting a little bit of hands on flying experience, albeit under close supervision by Dave Webster.
All were particularly impressed with the speed and hovering capability demonstrated in the winds of today, and its various auto stabilisation features.
And at the conclusion of the demonstration, well our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE commented at how strange it was to be part of a group of team members being photographed (Using its stop frame picture capability) by the minicopter “hovering 10 feet in front of us and five feet off the ground, taking our picture!”
Many thanks to Ray Clift and Dave Webster of Mediatown Limited, for meeting us to demonstrate this versatile and impressive piece of kit.