Sylvan RCMP remote helicopter gets grounded

Plans to use a camera-fitted remote-controlled miniature helicopter in Sylvan Lake this summer have been grounded, says a spokesman for RCMP K Division.

Staff Sgt. Duncan Babchuk flies the Draganfly X4 unmanned air vehicle at the Sylvan Lake RCMP detachment Wednesday. Police hope the unit will be useful in searching for lost people

Staff Sgt. Duncan Babchuk flies the Draganfly X4 unmanned air vehicle at the Sylvan Lake RCMP detachment Wednesday. Police hope the unit will be useful in searching for lost people

Plans to use a camera-fitted remote-controlled miniature helicopter in Sylvan Lake this summer have been grounded, says a spokesman for RCMP K Division.

The Draganflyer X4 will instead be sent off as soon as possible to RCMP headquarters in Ottawa for flight tests, according to Sgt. Patrick Webb.

“On the face of it, it seems like a very good idea for utilization,” Webb said Thursday. “But there are hundreds of detachments across Canada so it might be appropriate to be used in other places, as well.”

The X4, built by Draganfly Innovations Inc. of Saskatoon, allows one officer to pilot the chopper while another watches through the mounted camera via sunglasses fitted with a live video feed.

Sylvan Lake RCMP got the chopper in January and members have been training on it for use largely in crash reconstruction.

Webb said the Sylvan Lake detachment is “always on the cutting edge” and has forward-thinking personnel who deserve credit for identifying the possibility of using Draganfly machines in police work.

• See video of Sylvan RCMP’s Dragan X4 helicopter