Kiwi-owned and operated VigilAir has launched its semi-autonomous aerial surveillance drone technology onto the global market.
The VigilAir software product will undoubtedly disrupt the security industry and is a product that has the potential to change the face of security worldwide.
International patents are well underway for the software that can dispatch camera-equipped drones to investigate any external security event.
The VigilAir solution will be provided as a full-service solution, with drone enclosure, installation and full ongoing support provided.
“Simply put, our software will enable drones to be the first-response security guards of the future,” says director of VigilAir, Mike Marr.
New Zealand has been at the forefront of drone/UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) regulation and VigilAir continues to work closely with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to develop the equipment, systems, and processes to provide a safe and effective service.
The product and service operate under a current CAA certification, with work underway to rapidly expand the operating parameters.
The company spent years pioneering the use of drones with new technology for security purposes, including self-funding its own research and development.
VigilAir is a SaaS product that integrates drones into existing electronic security systems.
It’s suited to large outdoor sites such as retail and industrial parks, hospitals, university campuses, schools, ports, prisons, and town centres which are at risk of burglary, vandalism or security breaches. A security drone will also act as an effective deterrent.
When not flying, the drone sits in an enclosure – dubbed a nest – located on a business site. When alerted by an alarm sensor trigger, it will be dispatched to fly over the site to investigate, record and live-streame high definition video footage to whoever’s monitoring the action.
The drone may include a thermal or infra-red camera, and bright LED floodlights to illuminate any intruder and record the scene. The hovering drone may sound a siren or even talk to the intruder using a two-way communications system.
Before leaving the nest, the VigilAir SaaS system checks the weather data, then the drone flies a pre-determined flight route that’s geo-fenced to preserve neighbours’ privacy and comply with flight regulations.
A future release will allow the drone to be further manoeuvred to follow any fleeing suspects, capturing images of them and their vehicle license plate number. It then returns to its nest to recharge.
“After considerable R&D, innovation and years of trials, not to mention processing technology and software patents, to now be able to unleash the product onto the international market is really exciting.
“VigilAir’s system is all about delivering faster, safer, and more cost-effective security for organisations or businesses with large sites and security installations,” says Mr Marr.
He says to be able to fly a rapid response drone literally directly into a crime, and to record and transmit all that’s happening, has huge advantages over a traditional on-the-ground security response.
“And we’ve designed it to be user-friendly. Security guards, whether on site or operating remotely, will be able to use the system and it’s one that can already ‘talk’ to 99 percent of all existing electronic security systems.
“As you can imagine this is all a lot safer than dispatching a guard on foot to check out a security problem.
“Drones will help catch perpetrators as everything’s recorded which is gold for any eventual prosecutions. And importantly, the ongoing cost will be lighter on operational budgets,” Mr Marr says.
VigilAir has the potential to make NZ$400 million in its first year largely because the fully integrated semi-autonomous system is a world-leader.
“Its ease of operation and effectiveness has wide appeal for any organisation needing to protect its assets or people,” he says.
VigilAir is completing reseller agreements with two major international corporations, providing a channel for product export and on-going support.
“We’re very confident in its success. We’ve done exhaustive searches and cannot find anything to compare with VigilAir’s system worldwide. It’s truly a global first with unlimited potential.”
Mr Marr believes harnessing drone technology for security purposes was “somewhat inevitable” for a company that has been at the forefront of CCTV and wireless security technology in New Zealand.
VigilAir’s interest in drones doesn’t stop at security.
“While their use for aerial photography is well established, considerable potential remains in core like agriculture, construction and forestry.
“Our drones have assisted the police in search and rescue operations in hard-to-reach terrain like cliffs and crevasses. And we’ve done all sorts of work from inspecting the Auckland Harbour Bridge to looking for leaks on the roofs of central city buildings.”
As well as inspecting infrastructure and assets, smart drone technology is used for Infrared imagery to track heat-loss and to create 3D models that are dimensionally correct to a few centimetres.
VigilAir was invented and developed by ASG Technologies – a technology incubator established three years ago by TPT Group.
Mr Marr is the founder of TPT Group and remains its chief executive. He is also directly heading VigilAir which was founded last year to commercialise ASG’s drone control software.
“Our experienced VigilAir team, led by Andy Grant an ex Warfare Officer from the Navy, includes software and mechatronic engineers and a commercial pilot,” says Mr Marr.
“The team remains focused on the ongoing development of the VigilAir capability and delivering world-leading future-focused security technology.
“To now launch a semi-autonomous ‘eye in the sky’ solution, incorporating an on-site drone with cloud-based SaaS software, is a long way from how we initially viewed drones – as flying CCTV cameras to support the fixed ones.”
Ongoing security technology innovation will help with many governments’ aspirations to develop safer cities in a continually urbanising world.
And for the future: TPT is advancing robotic technology with the intent of one day launching fully autonomous ‘foot patrol’ robots to work in conjunction with its security drones.
About TPT Group
More than150 people are employed at TPT Group which has a stable of security businesses including VigilAir Ltd, ASG Technologies Ltd, Advanced Security Group, TPT Finance (NZ) Ltd, Promessa Property Group Ltd, ASGSPL Ltd, Asset Insight Ltd, and TPT Group Investments Ltd.
Mike Marr +64 29 281 0221