Video: AI-enabled drone added to Verizon’s first responder unit

27 March 2024

Telecom Verizon has added the AI-enabled Skydio X10 unmanned aerial system (UAS) to its Frontline Crisis Response Team, giving the unit a more sophisticated aircraft for a range of first responder missions.

The Skydio X10 will replace several Verizon Frontline Crisis Response Team drones currently in the unit. The UAS can power up in under 40 seconds and can reach maximum flight speed of 45 mph with a 40-minute flight time. The drone is a small uncrewed aircraft that can be used for operations such as:

  • Search and rescue missions
  • Thermal mapping
  • Situational awareness during a crisis
  • Surveying during natural disasters

“The X10 is an AI-enabled drone capable of providing our team with enhanced capabilities, including full or partial autonomous flight,” said Chris Sanders, a senior manager for the Verizon Frontline Crisis Response Team. “It will allow us to stream video to the agencies we fly for by sharing a link, which means that anyone in the organization will be able to see the stream, and it makes it easier for us because there’s less equipment needed to operate the drone. This aircraft modernizes our fleet and helps take us to the next level of capabilities while giving us flexibility for the future.”

The Skydio X10 carries a sensor package that includes multiple cameras — telephoto, narrow and radiometric thermal. It is equipped with NightSense, a technology that allows the drone to enable zero light navigation for autonomous flight as well as obstacle avoidance in zero light conditions. This means the UAS operates 24 hours a day regardless of lighting conditions, something that is bound to happen during a natural disaster or crisis, Verizon said.

The Verizon Frontline Crisis Response Team is an on-demand emergency assistance unit that is available to government agencies and emergency responses on a 24/7 basis, Verizon said. The unit establishes portable cell sites, Wi-Fi hotspots, charging stations and other devices to enable communications or boost network performances during natural disasters or other crises.

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