Last week, the results of an experiment conducted by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) and Unmanned Experts Inc. (Unmanned Experts), a Denver-based unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) technology applications company, using UAS to analyze accidents were released. The experiment involved LVMPD and Unmanned Experts comparing the process of recording and measuring evidence at an accident scene using all the traditional methods against the process used by UAS.

The two teamed up to simulate a car hitting a pedestrian and then running off the road. First, the LVMPD diagrammed the accident scene using a traditional, ground-based GPS total station. Then Unmanned Experts used an Aeron SkyRanger UAS to do the same. The UAS was positioned about 20 meters over the accident scene. It was programmed to fly a grid pattern with the camera pointed straight down. Additional photos were taken from 15 meters and 10 meters as well.

The result? The UAS was able to detail the accident scene in a 3-dimensional point cloud (allowing for precise calculations of distance between points of interest at the scene), keep officers off the road (since one of the greatest causes of death for police officers has been traffic-related accidents), and complete the process significantly faster than the LVMPD on the ground. Unmanned Experts said, “We’re getting inquiries from many local and state police agencies asking about how to incorporate this technology into their accident and crime teams. We see drones becoming an essential tool for quick, safe, and legally sound investigation support.”