A tethered drone will watch over US President Donald Trump, when he goes golfing this month.
A press release from the US Department of Homeland Security describes the drone as a tethered small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS), and says ‘the proof of concept is operated using a microfilament tether that provides power to the aircraft and the secure video from the aircraft to the operator control unit (OCU).’
The drone will fly over Trump National Golf Course in New Jersey, US, during the President’s vacation there.
Information provided by the DHS to meet privacy requirements says the tethered drone is programmed to autonomously fly 300-400 feet agl, and uses an electro optical/infrared camera controlled by an operator. The camera transmits video images through the tether back to the operator using an encrypted feed. Electric power for the drone’s motors passes up the tether, giving the drone a longer flight time than battery powered drones.
Industry publication Drone Life reports the drone is believed to be made by US manufacturer CyPhy Works. CyPhy says its drone is capable of flying for days, resistant to wind, precipitation and debris and incapable of drifting and fly-aways.
The DHS issued a somewhat restrained description of the prototype drone’s surveillance capability. ‘Though unlikely due to the altitude at which the tethered sUAS will operate and the quality of the video obtained, the data and images collected or retained may be clear enough to help investigators identify an individual when used in conjunction with other data,’ it said.
Tethered drones were used to monitor the Boston Marathon last year. The event was bombed in 2013, killing three people.