Inside the mobile drone command post of the future

The Trident is a converted Mercedes-Benz van that can act as a complete mobile command post for drones

At a fraction of the cost of a helicopter, it's no surprise that public safety agencies and media companies are eyeing drones for serious work. But how to monitor and control them? The Trident is a converted Mercedes-Benz van that can act as a complete mobile command post for drones.

From the outside, the drone looks much like the existing command vehicles used by law enforcement or broadcasters, thanks to two antennae on the roof.

That similarity extends to the inside. Two large flat-panel displays dominate a control desk and can be used to show video feeds from two to eight different sources.

Those feeds can come into the truck directly from optical or infrared cameras in drones and surveillance cameras or through microwave downlinks on helicopters.

0107 drone control 5 Martyn Williams

Monitors show video feeds from drones and other cameras in the FlyMotion Trident at CES in Las Vegas on Jan. 7, 2016.

Operators can use the flat screens to monitor video while controlling drones from tablet computers. In a demonstration at CES in Las Vegas on Thursday, drone control software was shown running on a Panasonic Toughbook computer, with the screen mirrored onto one of the much larger displays.

The video is received, processed and controlled through a rack of equipment that sits to the right of the control station. To its left is a digital whiteboard that, in the demonstration, was showing a map on which operators could write and annotate as needed.

0107 drone control 1 Martyn Williams

A satellite antenna and telescoping mast antenna on a FlyMotion Trident at CES in Las Vegas on Jan. 7, 2016.

From the truck, video can be streamed over satellite or bonded cellular using LiveU, a high-definition video streaming system that is popular with broadcasters. This enables images to be shared with a larger group of people off site. It can also use Ka-band satellite broadband from ViaSat.

The vehicle was developed by FlyMotion, a Tampa, Florida, company that is pitching to law enforcement agencies, search-and-rescue operators and TV broadcasters.

Many of the company's employees are former military or law enforcement officers and saw a need for such a command post as drone technology started becoming popular, said Ryan English, president and co-founder of the company, in an interview.

0107 drone control 2 Martyn Williams

The FlyMotion Trident at CES in Las Vegas on Jan. 7, 2016.

He said the system is customizable and configurable to other vehicles and the company plans to introduce a system built into an SUV in the coming weeks.

The Mercedes Benz Sprinter fully equipped with the Trident system costs about $300,000, he said.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags dronesCES 2016

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?