Local Startup Makes Drones to Help First Responders

Local Company Looks to Partner with First Responders

They're not just another drone company.

That is one of the first things Chad Amonn will tell you. He's part of a small San Diego-based startup named Inova Drone.

The company, less than a year old, designs drones with first responders in mind.

"Our goal is to really save lives with this technology," said Amonn.

The unmanned aircraft are each equipped with infrared cameras that Amonn says are ideal for search and rescue operations and the heat sensing cameras would also give firefighters an advantage. 

"They can see through fog and smoke, and be able to spot people through the tree canopy from above," he said.

The drones can also map search patterns to help in a search and rescue and Amonn says the aircraft are able to continue flying even if one of the motors were to fail.

"These aircraft have to fly in some of the harshest conditions you can image," he said.

He said Inova Drone has started talks with local branches of FEMA as well as local fire and police departments to bring their products to first responders.

While the FAA wrestles with how to regulate the issue of drones in general, the government has put in place a system for law enforcement and public safety agencies to get authorization to use drones.

San Diego County Sheriffs spokeswoman Jan Caldwell told NBC 7 the department is not currently using drones but that the department does have an exploratory committee looking into the issue.

San Diego police are also not using drones, but a spokesman said it's a cost effective issue that will likely be considered in the future.

An obvious question is how much would the system cost.

Amonn did not want to give a specific dollar amount, but said they believe it will be competitive. He said some similar setups can cost between $40,000 to $70,000 each.

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