TOKYO -- Japanese security company Secom, starting in December, will offer a surveillance service using drones designed to detect and track suspicious vehicles and people. The drones can also take pictures of license plates and intruders' faces as they enter factory grounds or shops at night.
The launch of the service was delayed after a drone carrying radioactive material was discovered on the roof of the Japanese prime minister's office in April. Secom has already received more than 100 orders for the service from companies and research institutions. The drones will be the world's first operated by a private security company, Secom said.
The proprietary unit developed by Secom has four propellers and a honeycomb-shaped base. It measures about 60-by-60cm and is about 20cm tall. The craft weighs 2kg and can operate for about 10 minutes on a single charge. The drone takes off from its charging station automatically when sensors detect an intruder going over a wall, for instance. It then follows the target, hovering 3 meters to 5 meters off the ground.
The device features autonomous navigation based on Secom's experience with sensors and image analysis technology. The drone maintains its distance as from the target as it moves, determining which way the intruder is facing and lighting up the area to take photos of a person's face or a vehicle's license plates. It can also detect the precise location of the target, using GPS, to within a few centimeters.
The drone continuously monitors its propellers and sensors, shutting down if there is a malfunction. It uses a preinstalled 3-D map to navigate around a compound, avoiding buildings, trees and other obstacles.
Secom will offer the service to existing customers for around 5,000 yen ($40) a month.