First, I am believer in the power of live video. It says more than a thousand words. Todays communications tool of operational forces is surprisingly still audio. For years analogue walkie-talkies were the choosen equipment to stay in touch. Years ago Germany and other countries switched to digital still having trouble with its limitations for i.e. in forests and other situations forcing the men and women on the ground to use their private cellular phones. In 2018, you are kidding…
I think, todays technology offers more than that and this is where „CopKa” came into place, 3 years ago. CopKa is a project funded by the BMWi (Federal ministry of economy) for three years (2015-2018) (grant number 50YB1523) with the project partners Technical University of Munich (Institute of Space Technology), IMST GmbH, LSE Space GmbH, and the German Aerospace Center as the project promoter. My company, TV1 GmbH is a project partner as well, taking care of the live video link and the satellite communication.
Putting an IP-based satellite link into the center of the forces main communication link, the full range of internet services are now available everywhere. The satellite system, developed by IMST, and installed on our TV1 Volkswagen van automatically points to the satellite within 2 minutes. Once the link is established the units provides 10 Mbit/s dedicated uplink speed. This is now enough bandwidth to send or receive two to four live video feeds in HD quality simultaneously.
One live video channel is used by the drone sending live video from its optical camera to the ground. An additional infrared video picture can be transmitted as well helping to search persons or to detect embers. The drone video feed is send to the control room and embedded into flight control software, which was provided by LSE. The assistant now controls the drone getting the live video feed with a decent two second delay.
One reason for this is the travel time of data back and forth to the satellite which is located 36.000 kilometres above the equator in light speed consuming already 1.2 seconds. The rest is needed for encoding and decoding of the compressed video signal.
By having full control over the drone the assistant gets an overview over the situation. This helps to order the right operating resources avoiding spamming the location with unneeded personell and equipment.After forces have arrived a drone could help to investigate on how far several processes have progressed. In an exercise in 2017 one major question of the head of operation was, if water hoses were installed in a remote location and water could flow to brand herd. (see video below).
On 17th, October 2018 all team members presented their work in an final exercise at the fire brigade of the Technical University of Munich in front of members of the DLR. All systems worked. People rescued. Mission accomplished.