Public safety and government agencies, including police departments, fire departments and emergency management agencies, now can purchase a drone designed and built in the U.S. for use by first responders and in search-and-rescue cases in outdoor settings.
Uniform Sierra Aerospace, a company that builds small, unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, has launched its Panther drone for the marketplace. The company was founded by Purdue University alumni Duncan Mulgrew, Jeremy Frederick and Trevor Redpath.
Mulgrew, the company’s CEO, said passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2024 means federal grant money can no longer be used to purchase Chinese-built drone equipment. He said agencies need entirely U.S.-built options that perform well under the suboptimal outdoor conditions in which they often fly.
“The primary challenge of outdoor operations is being able to operate no matter the weather conditions at the time,” Mulgrew said. “In the event of a missing person case that requires search and rescue, our users can’t afford to ground their drone fleet if it’s windy or raining.”
Mulgrew said Panther can fly in higher winds than other UAS and is waterproofed to a level that allows it to fly in rain and snow. Other key features for outdoor use are its sensor package, speed, flight time, compliance with FAA regulations for night operations and low detectability.