Drone AI first for Scottish police force

11/5/2019

Police Scotland has announced its plans to use artificial intelligence to help its drone operators find missing and vulnerable people.

According to a statement, the machine learning technology - which is believed to be the first of its kind being used in the UK – will analyse images in real time, in order to identify humans in rural and remote locations.

Speaking of the solution, a spokesperson said: “Trained with hundreds of hours of footage of police officers in different clothing, positions, and situations, the AI scours an image and can locate a person within seconds, at a distance of up to 150 metres.

“The system is twice as fast as other state-of-the-art algorithms and its ability to recognise a human is enhanced the more it is used. The RPAS [remotely piloted aircraft system] is operated by a specially trained officer on the ground, while another officer receives a real-time video feed from the [drone] cameras on a smartphone."

Speaking to BBC Scotland, Police Scotland Inspector Nicholas Whyte said: "The drone itself has very special sensors on it.

"There's a very highly-powered optical camera which can allow us to see things quite clearly from a good height. Also, there's a thermal imaging sensor which detects heat.

"We're there to find people. People who need our help or people who are lost."
 
The technology has been developed by a consortium of partners, consisting of CENSIS, Thales UK, the University of the West of Scotland, and Police Scotland itself.

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