Drones and Their Use During a SHTF Situation

Drones

Real time intelligence is what allows you to make proper decisions. When the SHTF traditional communication and surveillance systems are likely to be inoperative, so what is your backup plan for gathering information.

During a crisis, information gathering can be dangerous for any number of reasons. There may be roving bands of criminals, damaged roadways, collapsed bridges, blocked tunnels and so on. Once you venture out without any forewarning of what dangers may be in your area you have put yourself at risk. You will need a system in place that allows you to gather information before you venture out.

Perimeter surveillance requires people with a certain skill set, and without proper training, perimeter reconnaissance can be dangerous. What if you were able to conduct a reconnaissance mission without putting anyone’s life in danger, well you can now with a surveillance drone for personal use.

Drones and Prepping

The DJI Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter is just one of many drones available on the market for personal use today. It is battery operated and is capable of recording video with its on board camera/video system. Some of the models like the Phantom 2 Vision use GPS technology, which allows it to return to its launch site if the radio signal is lost.

Keep in mind during some situations GPS capability may not be available.

You will need to ensure you always have batteries and a system in place such as a generator or a solar charging station to charge the batteries or battery packs during a power disruption.

It can fly at 22 mph, and if the radio connection is lost, the drone is programmed (as some are) to return to its launch position. This means that if someone in the area is jamming radio signals, or you lose the signal for whatever reason, you will not lose your drone.

Some drones on the market today, including the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Personal Drone have “smart phone integration”, which means it can be controlled with a smart phone. This allows the operator to see what the drone is seeing in real time through their smart phones. You can also adjust camera angles and so forth using your phone. The Phantom can be programmed via a USB cable and a home computer.

Flight time for the Phantom 2 is listed at 25 minutes with a fully charged battery. The control distance is approximately 300 meters (approximately 900ft).The top speed is 35 mph but the manufacturer recommends you do not maintain this speed for extended periods. You can in some cases, experience an interruption of signal at higher altitudes. However, much depends on objects in the area that may interfere with or block the signal.

Being able to gather intelligence in real time is extremely important. Imagine if you could survey miles of terrain in a matter of hours whereas in the past it may take days for scouts on the ground to do the reconnaissance.

Drones can be used as a hunting tool as well. Game spotting would be one use. You can find where the game is before you spend all day hiking through the area. If you are the one on the ground seeking game, you can communicate in real time with the operator of the drone. It is easier to spot game from the air, so the drone operator can guide you or anyone on the ground to the game.

Using drones can help you manage resources more efficiently during a crisis, particularly human resources. Knowing where the game is before you head out saves time and energy and helps insure a successful hunt.

The typical drone can reach or exceed 300 feet in altitude while some of the larger DIY models can operate at higher altitudes.

What a drone can do is give you unique aerial shots of your area or any area you may be interested in without having to put anyone in danger. This allows you to check on road damage, collapsed bridges, and tunnels and to keep track of any movement by others in your area.

Drones can be used to convey information back and forth as well. You can send out the drone to deliver information to others. This can be ideal if you fear traditional communication systems are being monitored or simply not operational, both of which is quite likely during a crisis.

The drawbacks of course are the drones can be shot down by small arms fire, captured or otherwise disabled. Larger drones can carry a payload (see Amazon and their anticipated delivery system), so delivery of vital supplies to others may be possible with the right drone. However, you can lose supplies if the drone malfunctions or is brought down by others.

In some cases, people may track the drone back to your location. You will have to develop a plan to prevent this from happening by never launching the drone from an area that you do not want compromised.

Gas operated drones are available but they do require a battery backup system, and a battery operated ignition system. The noise level will be higher and thus gas-operated aircraft cannot operate with the same degree of stealth as a battery operated ones. The gas-operated drones can carry a heavier payload however.

You can modify the drones in some cases, by adding various cameras and video systems. Keep in mind if you install a Wi-Fi system (real time video transmitter) to receive real time pictures or videos from any onboard cameras the signal may interfere with the signal that controls the drone. Make sure you have the proper training and equipment to make modifications.

Because the popularity of drones is on the rise, there are numerous models from which to choose. You have to determine what your requirements are first however. For most people just being able to monitor your surroundings, without leaving your location, in real time is enough. You can send the drone out, capture what is going on with video or still pictures and then make decisions based on the intelligence gathered.

Once again one of the drawbacks is the drone will be visible to anyone paying attention on the ground. During a crisis, people will be more sensitive to surveillance and thus your drone may come under attack.

The uses however, are only limited by your imagination. Drones could be used in areas where it is not safe for humans. If there was a chemical attack, for example, a drone could survey the area, whereas a human could not do so safely. They can be used in search and rescue operations as well.

Considerations

Signals can be jammed and weather may interfere with the signal. Practicing with your drone is vital. You must know the drone’s limitations before sending it out in a real world situation.