3.26.19 - Perch Drone, GPS Rollover, LAFD

"It's OK if you fall down and lose your spark. Just make sure that when you get back up, you rise as the whole damn fire." — Colette Werden, famous person


LAFD making it look easy


In a recent meeting of the Board of Fire Commissioners, Chief Ralph Terrazas showed just how valuable a UAS program can be for a public safety agency. In less than two years, the Los Angeles Fire Department has flown over 175 missions, including during the devastating Skirball Fire. Skyfire had the pleasure of helping LAFD secure their Certificate of Authorization (COA), but the agency has done a tremendous job of taking the bull by the horns and establishing a training regimen, securing new pilots and equipment, and growing their program to 17 licensed pilots. No wonder they're killing it.

Here's what you need to know:

  1. LAFD continues to be best-in-class, flying over 175 times since 2017.

  2. They have established their own SOP's and training regimen, utilizing a consulting company to help with their regulatory framework.

  3. Despite considerable public outcry at the outset, LAFD was able to work with the community to help quell privacy concerns.

Why should you care?

LAFD shows how you can turn a couple of donated drones into a world-class program through hard work, dedication, and a little help from experts. Rather than run from, or ignore, privacy concerns from citizens, LAFD met them head-on and made sure their SOP's addressed those concerns. With buy-in from the community, a public safety drone program can really start cooking with gas.


DJI ain't afraid of no GPS Week shenanigans

In what has been described as "like the Y2K of GPS" by our intern Jarrod, the many GPS satellites floating around our fair planet will reset on April 6, 2019, potentially causing a few problems for GPS-enabled devices. What the heck does that mean? From our friends at the US Marine Corp:

“GPS receivers obtain time from the GPS constellation using a 10-bit week number which counts weeks from zero to 1023 and then returns to zero rather than incrementing to 1024. This may cause some receivers to report a date 1024 weeks (19.6 years) in the past when the week number is zero. This means that on 6 April 2019, some GPS receivers may report the date as 22 August 1999. In order to mitigate this issue, GPS manufacturers provide software updates to ensure the zero week is correctly interpreted.”

TL;DR -- GPS receivers can only count to 1023.

Fortunately, DJI is on top of it and says they've got it covered. In a recent press release, they said they've thoroughly tested their drones, and customers should have no problem using their DJI equipment on April 6th and beyond.

Here's what you need to know:

  1. April 6th, 2019 is going to be GPS armageddon.

  2. DJI drones will be fine, though, because basically everyone in the GPS space knew this was coming and took precautions to plan for it.

  3. If, however, it is GPS armageddon you'll at least be able to get good drone footage of it.

Why should you care?

It doesn't sound like you need to be worried. This has been known for a long time, and most manufacturers of GPS-enabled devices have had plenty of time to prepare for the rollover. After-all, this is the second time this has happened. Granted there are a lot more GPS-enabled products in the market, but your drone should be fine.


Flying lawnmowers, now with claws!


A robotics team made up of scientists around the world have created a specialized type of UAS landing gear that can grip onto a growing library of surfaces. That way the drone can chill like a bat or a hawk to conserve energy. It's just in the prototype phase for now, but with better sensors and interesting new developments in battery technology, it seems easy to imagine a world where drones don't ever have to land at all.

Here's what you need to know:

  1. A multi-national team of researchers have essentially put hawk feet on a drone, making it possible to land on non-flat surfaces.

  2. The prototype requires LiDAR, or some other depth-aware sensor.

  3. It ain't ready for prime-time, but expect this (or something like it) to be commercially available in the next couple of years.

Why should you care?

Mainly because it's cool. I mean, they put claws on a flying lawnmower!


  1. USSOCOM Awards Contract to our buddies at Sarcos Robotics for delivery of an Iron Man suit

  2. Pullman police awarded for using drones beyond law enforcement

  3. Skyfire Obtains First COA With Beyond Visual Line of Sight Provision for Public Safety as Part of FAA IPP


    April 4-5

    South Florida UAS Skills Camp

    2-day tactical training camp - $199

    May 3-4

    Chicago UAS Skills Camp

    2-day tactical training camp - $199

    May 22-23

    NorCal UAS Skills Camp

    2-day tactical training camp - $199

    June 5-7

    The Safety Conference

    Presented by SERTC and Skyfire, SafeCon 2019 will be the nation's most comprehensive public safety technology training conference ever. - $599


New York's finest, the NYPD, used a tethered drone to maintain contact with a barricaded suspect in Brooklyn. The drone also enabled them to see that the suspect's gun was put down and he was free to be taken into custody safely.


The Skyfire store is now live!