The rugged Alaris Video Command Center houses a 22"/56cm screen, allowing several people to watch a drone feed in the field. Image: Alaris

Alaris markets rugged portable drone video command center

Emergency response Equipment & systems Security • law enforcement • countermeasures

Alaris Unmanned Systems, a Maryland-based startup founded in 2014 and staffed by law enforcement and aviation professionals, is launching a ruggedized portable video monitoring and streaming solution for mobile command centers. Dubbed the VCC for Video Command Center, the aviation-grade suitcase-sized unit can mirror two feeds (one Wi-Fi, the other HDMI) from external c-drone controllers (or one controller through Wi-Fi, and an alternate video source through HDMI) on its 22″ (56cm) screen, and stream the feeds to iOS or Android devices or computers if a Wi-Fi hotspot is available, typically a mobile command vehicle or emergency operations center. The unit also has an HDMI output port for a second external monitor or to feed a command center.

The company says the VCC was designed to meet a common problem in the public safety world — often, the optimum location for a drone takeoff/landing zone is not close by a command vehicle, while incident commanders want the drone’s video available there. The VCC bridges that gap, allowing pilots to focus on flying, without superiors crowding the controller screen to see what’s happening. And by providing streamed video through a command center, officials not on the scene can watch the live drone video feed, subject of course to the command center’s hotspot bandwidth.

The VCC is externally powered (DC or AC), features a powerful cooling fan to avoid overheating, and provides a wireless keyboard with touchpad, SD Card slot, and two USB charging ports. The unit contains a Windows computer which can record the HDMI video input to the system storage. Recording of the Wi-Fi drone video is not available on the VCC, although this could possibly be organized with screen capture software such as X-Mirage, which the company doesn’t recommend. Most c-drones are equipped with SD or micro SD cards which can be configured for higher-quality video recording, and even higher-end options such as RED’s MINI-MAG or DJI’s CINESSD can be placed on larger drones. And, of course, a mobile command center relaying the VCC’s video could record the stream if desired.

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $8,000, with no recurring fees, and options available such as a more powerful computer, case logo, and a UAS Accessory Kit with a set of long video and power cables. Distribution is direct and only in the US at this time, although the company says they are researching the possibility of distributing outside the US. Pre-commercialization versions of the VCC have been used in the field in multiple scenarios: search and rescue operations, barricade situations, pre-disaster planning, covert surveillance operations, and large event/crowd monitoring.

Alaris also markets a drone fleet management Software as a Service (SaaS) solution called AlarisPro which is used by police and fire departments in several American cities, and features aviation-inspired predictive maintenance component-level monitoring of drones with feedback to participating manufacturers.