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New Night-Vision Capable Drone Marketed to Police

by Anthony W. Accurso

Skydio, a popular drone manufacturer, released the new X10, whose main selling point is an infrared camera, which allows it to track people and fly autonomously in the dark.

The company began making hobby drones about a decade ago, selling them to athletes who wanted something like an autonomous aerial GoPro, which could follow and film them without requiring the athlete to hold or wear the camera. However, in 2020, the U.S. military approved Skydio’s drones for off-the-shelf use in missions, expanding the company’s market to government agencies and large corporations like BNSF railway.

Yet, the X10 is designed to appeal directly to law enforcement. It can be stored in the trunk of a police car and can be modified with add-on accessories designed to fit in its four expansion bays. Current options include a speaker, spotlight, and a parachute for emergency landings. Its maximum speed is a swift 45 miles per hour. The infrared camera is the main feature though, with 65x zoom allowing it to read a license plate from 800 ft away and follow a vehicle from up to three miles away.

At its launch in late September 2023, CEO Adam Bry said the company wants to “get drones everywhere they can be useful in public safety.” And New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced that such drones could be used to “stop high-speed chases,” presumably by tracking fugitives until they can be surrounded and forced to surrender.

This model may also be paired with the autonomous launch dock Skydio introduced last year, allowing these drones to launch without operator interaction when the city’s ShotSpotter audible sensors detect gunfire nearby.

Civil liberties and police watchdog groups have raised concerns that police departments lack rules limiting drone use, especially in connection with other surveillance tools, further eroding privacy and the exercise of free speech such as during protests.  



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