UAH To Use Octocopter Technology For Campus Security

Posted on: 9:42 pm, May 8, 2013, by , updated on: 10:28pm, May 8, 2013

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – WHNT News 19 first told you about the Octocopter as part of a special report on how it provides a perspective that forecasters say is a valuable resource for storm surveys.

But now the technology developed on the University of Alabama Huntsville campus could be used to keep students and faculty safe.

In the wake of a national tragedy UAH Systems Management and Production Center Program Director Dr. Gary Maddux picked up the phone and called the UAH campus police chief, asking what could they do to keep the campus safe.

From that call came the effort to us the unmanned aerial vehicles as part of campus security and law enforcement.

The UAVs will buzz up to 400 feet above the UAH campus as an extra “eye in the sky.”

“You can put the thing up there and it’s almost invisible to the person who’s maybe doing something they shouldn`t be doing,” said Maddux.

While the octocopters can survey everything happening within the campus’ borders, developers say they won’t be a privacy concern for nearby neighborhoods or businesses. A virtual fence will be set up around the university`s campus, with GPS coordinates of buildings and campus boundaries.

“We`ll actually put that into the computer model and make sure the GPS locations are built into our flight pattern so when they fly across campus if they get too close to the boundary they`ll either stop or come home,” said Norven Goddard, a research specialist involved with the program at UAH.

If the octocopters prove to be a success at UAH, the technology could be used on campuses elsewhere.

Developers are currently working of versions of the UAV’s that mount a small camera for surveillance, an LED flashlight and camera for night spotlighting or an infrared camera to detect heat signatures.