In the near future, residents in Georgia’s Macon-Bibb county may expect to see flying saucers. These aren’t extraterrestrial machines heralding an alien invasion. Reassuringly, they are instead simply police drones, disk-shaped multicopters that the police and rescue services will use in the county. According to a press release from dronemaker Olaeris, the county commission signed a $5.7 million agreement to use the drones for five years, and that agreement included support services like training, repair, and signal-scrambling. The county commission says that statement is in error, and that they’ve tabled talks on buying the drones.
Olaeris’ drone is called the Aerial Electric Visual Assistant, or AEVA. The drone is a six-rotor multicopter with a camera pod underneath, carrying both infrared and normal cameras. What makes AEVA stand out is that the whole body is wrapped in a smooth, plastic disk, which protects hands from rotors, alters the aerodynamics of the craft, and gives the whole affair an alien appearance.
AEVA can fly for up to an hour, so it’s not a long-flying surveillance platform like military-style drones. Instead, Olaeris envisions it as a widely deployed system, ready to fly on a moment’s’ notice. From their website:
As Olaeris markets the AEVA, its contracts aren’t just for a drone but a system. When a city does purchase the drones, there’s a good chance that they’ll try to deploy them like this, as a ready response fleet. Below, watch a concept video for the drone, where it responds to a 911 call in seconds, and then uses its infrared camera to guide police cars to the fleeing burglar at night:
Updated July 31st to reflect that the county was in talks with the drone company, buy has not yet approved any agreement for their use.