May 20 - Japanese security firm Secom has a warning for would-be robbers - keep your eye on the sky because a soon-to-be-launched security drone will track you down. The drone has been designed to fly to the scene of a break-in and wait until the perpetrator tries to leave. Rob Muir reports.
Professor Toshiki Imamura is pretending to be a robber. He's using a crowbar to break in through the front door of a pretend home. But unbeknownst to him, he's tripped a pretend laser detector unleashing an aerial drone that, as he's about to find out, is anything but pretend Imamura is co-developer of security firm Secom's new crime-fighting quadcopter. Equipped with a camera and sensors that allow the autonomous pursuit of a suspect, it's an eye-in-the-sky that Secom's Tsuneo Komatsuzaki says could be the future of industrial and home security. (SOUNDBITE) DIRECTOR OF INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS LABORATORY, SECOM, TSUNEO KOMATSUZAKI, SAYING: "We do offer normal surveillance cameras to our clients, but this is completely different. Sadly we've had some really upsetting cases in the past, cameras only managing to film criminals from behind or only capturing their shadows. But this goes right up to the subject and gets the perfect footage from the perfect angle. The camera misses nothing." After being triggered into action by the initial break-in, the drone flies immediately to the scene. It's programmed to hover in place until its motion sensor detects a person's movement at the point of entry. (SOUNDBITE) DIRECTOR OF INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS LABORATORY, SECOM, TSUNEO KOMATSUZAKI, SAYING: "Criminals will get a shock when they see it, they'll look up in sheer amazement. And it's at that moment that the camera will be able to film them head-on, making it far more likely the suspect can later be identified." And if the perpetrator flees, the drone will follow, sending a live video signal back to Secom, even while in pursuit. It's just as effective with a suspect's car - the drone can follow it and zoom in on licence plate information...and if quadcopter comes under attack, it's able to take evasive action. Secom has spent two years developing their drone..the company plans to begin marketting them in 2014 to its 1.8 million domestic customers for a rental fee of $48 per month. Each robot will be restricted to a preprogrammed flight area, large enough says Komatsuzaki, to keep a home or office safe while making robbers think twice.