One of the best parts of going to a large drone show like AUVSI Xponential is having the opportunity to look at the amazing technology on the exhibit floor – like the SWAT team drones produced by Las Vegas-based BRINC drones.
(Product Review and Commentary. Not sponsored content, opinions are the author’s.)
BRINC Drones VP of Sales and Marketing Brett Kanda took the time to show me the new Lemur S: and I waylaid a BRINC customer walking by to get his view on why the Lemur is life-saving tech for SWAT teams.
The Lemur – and the Lemur S, soft-launched at AUVSI Xponential – is a drone decked out with features that make it ideal for the purpose. It’s an indoor tactical system meant to search structures and keep public safety, first responders, and suspects safe. During a SWAT mission, the Lemur, equipped with a specialized glass breaker, is able to break a window and enter the building. Once inside, the Lemur can explore (without GPS) room by room, providing both eyes and ears to the operators. When the Lemur makes contact with a suspect, it can perch – on a bed, bureau, table, or wherever – for up to 10 hours, helping SWAT teams establish 2-way communication with the suspect. That 2-way communication is critical, Brett explains. “The data is remarkable about how much better the outcome is when you are able to establish two way communication with a suspect – you have a great opportunity for a safe resolution,” he says.
Turtle Mode, Communications, and More
I’d heard about the Lemur before – but there’s nothing quite like seeing a drone up close to get really excited about it. One of the first things that Brett did was demonstrate how robust the Lemur is – by slamming it on to the concrete floor (while I had almost had a heart attack, thinking I was watching a $9,000 accident.) The drone simply bounced a bit. Next, Brett flipped it on its back to show off “turtle mode”, which allows the Lemur to turn itself over into flight position.
Then Brett backed off several aisles away while I stood next to the Lemur to demonstrate the communications system. Without a doubt, we could easily have conducted the interview that way – despite the distance, obstacles and surrounding interference, the Lemur provided a way for us to communicate clearly, and provided Brett with a way to see exactly what was going on wherever the drone went.
“All of these features come from SWAT operators – we ask our customers after every single training what else they’d like to see in the drone,” says Brett. “One of the things that we do very well is to listen to customers and act on their requests – in a 3 -4 month time frame we’re acting on what customers have asked for in the new Lemur S. We’re committed to public safety, we’re committed to being a force multiplier in this time when they need the help of technology and robotic systems.”
Supporting SWAT Teams
BRINC is well beyond development mode: there are a lot of customers and a lot of Lemurs out in the field. While manufactured in Las Vegas, the company also has a presence internationally and distribution in Europe. While I was speaking with Brett, Lemur customer Officer Bobby Lemon of the Fort Wayne Police Department came by the booth – and I asked him how the Lemur was working in their department. “The technology they’ve put into this drone is perfect for our use case,” Lemon said. “Any time you can keep from sending an officer in to a situation, it’s safer for the officer and for the suspect. With the two-way communication, it makes it safer for whoever is involved.”
BRINC requires a three day training for their customers, training up to 4 officers and providing them with the materials they need to train more staff in their home departments. “It’s a new type of tech, it’s not GPS based, and it’s a new type of mission.” Brett explains. “Proper training lowers risk.”
Lemon says that the training is the best his department has ever attended, and that the constant communication they’ve had with the company since is a key differentiator. “BRINC is not just trying – they’re doing it. The staff that they have is top notch,” he says. “They take care of things right away – there is no downtime.”
Armed Suspects, No Suspects, and Shooting Down the Drone
The Lemur is designed to provide SWAT teams with eyes and ears inside a suspect building: providing them with critical information about the number of suspects, the environment, and the risk level before they attempt entry with an officer.
“People ask all the time… ‘What if someone shoots down the drone?’” says Brett. “We tell them, that’s a great outcome– now you know that your suspect is armed and ready to shoot, and the only thing you’ve lost is a drone.”
Even if no suspect is found, Brett says the Lemur improves the situation for SWAT teams and communities. “Not seeing anyone in the facility is just as good as finding them – it reduces an enormous amount of time on the scene,” says Brett. “It’s a de-escalation tool in every way. That’s what it’s there for.”
Beyond SWAT missions, the Lemur is in the field for emergency response, too. During the recent Surfside condo collapse tragedy, the BRINC drone helped search the building. “We were able to get into crevices that were pitch black with no GPS,” said Brett. “It’s great to see how our technology can really help after these horrific events.”
To say that I was impressed with the Lemur is an understatement – and the pricing, something readers always request, is also reassuring. The pricing is printed clearly on their marketing material, and makes the Lemur appropriate for a lot of different departments. The drone costs $8,999: the required training is $2499 for up to 4 officers. Batteries are expensive, but offer a much longer life span than the traditional.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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