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 newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags dronesCES 2016

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

Mobile

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?