Unmanned Aerial Systems Project (Synopsis)

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Description: Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) ‘F’ Division developed the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) project as a cost-effective solution to the need for aerial photographs for a variety of situations, including major crime scenes, collision scenes, search and rescue operations, emergency response team operations and CBRNE. The UAS uses electric- or gas-powered remote-control helicopters that have a variety of different cameras attached to the bottom. During a one-year pilot project, the division used one helicopter and one pilot to test the system in approximately 36 cases. Following the pilot, in January of 2012, UAS was recommended to other RCMP divisions. As of summer 2012, 15 helicopters were being used across Canada (nine in Saskatchewan alone). By the end of 2013, there will be approximately 40 UAS in operation with the RCMP in Canada.
Objective: The purpose of UAS is to obtain high-quality digital photographs of crime or crash scenes without the expense of hiring a full-sized aircraft with pilot and crew. The helicopters operate at various altitudes and in different weather conditions, allowing the RCMP to provide courts with the best possible evidence. The objective is to use the helicopters for the following situations: crash scene investigations; major crime scenes; search and rescue operations; emergency response team situations; major chemical or biological events; and other emergencies.
Outcomes: UAS is an effective and cost-efficient way of obtaining high-quality digital photographs for a variety of purposes. The use of helicopters offers a huge tactical advantage in emergency situations because photographs can be obtained without putting police officers in danger. Following the pilot project, ‘F’ Division purchased additional units to bolster the UAS program. The division now has a budget in place and is leading the country in UAS technology. A formal evaluation of this program has not yet been done.
Resources: Most of the set-up costs were for equipment. One-time capital costs included the helicopter, camera, laptop, batteries and training on the use of the equipment (approximately $20,000). A significant amount of administrative time was used to develop policy and to apply for the required regulatory documents to be able to fly.
Province: Saskatchewan
Record Entry Date: 2013-08-01
Date modified: