Volarius, DJI Drones and Road Vehicles Are Patrolling the Border Together

US Border Patrol has a new friend:  A DJI M300 drone that can provide real-time aerial surveillance of both sides of the border, filming continuously.  The drone, with its limited battery power, can’t perform this mission alone.  Now, thanks to Volarious, a Singapore-based drone services company, it doesn’t have to.

Volarius has designed a special tether cable that links the DJI M300 drone to the back end of a Border Patrol vehicle.  The drone flies above the vehicle as it makes its rounds, capturing footage of suspicious persons and movements. Attached to the vehicle’s ground-based power source, the drone never needs to stop; it pans and zooms while the vehicle is still moving and can keep filming for as long as necessary.  A drone pilot in the ground vehicle directs the drone, which collects and stores its visual data for later processing.

The combination of road and aerial surveillance is potentially a huge boon to border control, reducing the current gaps in surveillance that allow large numbers of illegal border-crossers to enter the country largely undetected, border officials say.

Other benefits of the Volarius V-Pro Line tether include:

Enhanced visual range.  At a maximum altitude of 100 feet, the DJI drone can gather footage at a distance of 2-3 kilometers on either side of the patrol vehicle. The drone can film above high fences and tree lines and can pan 360 degrees while the vehicle is still moving. It can also zoom in to identify individual suspects, as needed.

Continuous flight.  Most drones last only 20-30 minutes in continuous flight due to their limited battery power.  DJI drones are no exception.  However, thanks to their tether cable, the drones will now have non-stop access to battery power, making time-consuming stops for battery recharging (or battery “swaps”) completely unnecessary. Drones will be filming continuously without interruption, keeping a constant eye on would-be border crossers.

Night vision.  Equipped with a thermal imaging camera, the DJI M300 drone can  surreptitiously detect movements at night, when many illegal border crossers prefer to operate.  The drone’s camera can identify the shapes of bodies by their heat signature alone and can easily distinguish humans from animals.  Knowing they’re under round-the-clock surveillance, many border crossers may be deterred from attempting to cross, border officials say.

Easy operation.  A single border patrol officer –  the vehicle driver or passenger – can activate the tethered drone.  With the simple push of a button, the drone will launch from the back of the vehicle, ascend to the desired height, and start filming.  It can pan and zoom as directed and follow the vehicle at its desired speed.  With another push of a button, the drone descends and self-stores until it’s needed again.

Drones are not the only means available to US Border Patrol to keep tabs on border movements, but compared to stationary towers, ground sensors and more conventional aircraft, they can operate far more flexibly; they can also provide close-in, relatively noise-less surveillance without being visible to detection, especially at night.

With its new V-Pro Line tether cable, Volarious claims it’s augmenting the DJI M300’s competitive advantage, enhancing border control at a time of growing concern over illegal crossers.  How well the new tether cable actually works in the field remains to be seen, but preliminary test results are promising, company officials say.  Interested parties can get their first public view of the cable in action at this week’s XPONENTIAL 2023 CONFERENCE held at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver, Colorado, May 8-11.

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