- The San Diego Fire Department (SDFD) has begun testing remotely piloted drones to fight fires, according to Markets Insider and others.
- Firefighters on the ground release the drones but once the devices are in the air they're operated by trained drone pilots via the Cape drone telepresence platform, VentureBeat reports.
- The city is part of the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP), a program to help the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) determine how to safely expand drone operation by both government and private sector entities. San Diego is one of the 10 municipalities or municipal departments chosen from 160 applicants to participate in the IPP.
SDFD's drones have the capability to provide real-time aerial views of a fire for first responders at a scene and in a command center. They can provide information to help human decision making for firefighting and rescue plans, such as through identifying hot spots not visible to crews on the ground or by locating trapped victims.
Although dozens of fire departments across America have introduced drones to combat fires, the San Diego deployment is a bit different. Its participation in the IPP means its tests will provide information to shape the future of drone use and inform government policy on the devices. The pilot eventually could transform how airspace is regulated and used in the United States.
The City of San Diego is the largest municipality to take part in the IPP. In addition to providing data about the fire department's drone use the city proposed studying drone food delivery, border security and the interoperability with smart city and autonomous vehicle technologies.