AUSTIN, Texas - Drones are known for flying above walls, but now they are flying through windows and doors.
"It’s kind of like having an aerial K-9 that we can move in," said Lt. Jim Molloy.
Molly is a Police Skills Instructor. He knows drones are no longer just eyes in the sky, they’re part of the team on the ground.
"It’s really almost a full time job to keep up with what they can do," said Molloy.
To help keep up with the advancements, ACC offers drone classes at its Public Safety Training Center in Kyle. The ACC drone program classes are helping law enforcement agencies expand the use of drone technology. Initial flight training certainly occurs outside, but the course work includes learning what to do with what’s seen inside.
It’s not easy because there’s no GPS links to stabilize the aircraft. Virtual reality goggles are used to maneuver drones through tight spaces as demonstrated by Flight Instructor Juan Cantu.
"Everything is by feel, touch, motion, experience, navigation through walls, knowing your depth perception, everything about the drone," said Cantu.
In a demonstration the drone was able to locate a man who is hiding in a back room.
"We can navigate these drones to go any place, under trees, under bridges, in houses, open fields anywhere we can fly this drone we can get to," said Cantu.
New emerging advances include arming drones with pepper spray and even Tasers. That’s why the training program is not just about flying.
"Any agency that’s using drones now has to have in place a policy for the use of deadly force and the drones. So all the ethics in the Shoot-Don’t Shoot decisions are going to be made by that person flying that drone remotely, as opposed to face-to-face. It’s the difference whether I’m standing 6 feet from you with a Taser, or I’m 200 yards away approaching you with a drone. That decision has still got to be made," said Molloy.
The ACC drone program also has open enrollment classes for the public. A lot of people taking the courses do survey and real estate work.