San Diego, Chula Vista is well-suited to test the concept of drones

Just south of San Diego, Chula Vista is well-suited to test the concept of drones as first responders, flying to the scene under their own power rather than tucked in a fire truck or a squad car. The city’s police headquarters is one of the tallest buildings in an area surrounded by densely packed homes and commercial buildings, miles from the nearest runway with clear views of nearby rooftops and roads.

Interstate 805 is a little over a mile to the east, Interstate 5 is a mile to the west, and the Sweetwater River is about that far north of the rooftop where drones take off, flying ahead of the cars below to put cameras on calamity or crime, and stream it all live to a network of watch commanders and responding personnel.

There’s not much to get in the way of even a relatively low-flying drone or block the view of a pilot watching from that rooftop. That pilot is able to focus full attention on the drone because, after establishing electronic limits to ensure the unmanned aircraft remains safely clear of obstructions or areas of high radio interference, the pilot turns control over to another officer who guides the drone to the desired location, and maneuvers it for the best view within the limits set by the remote pilot in command on the roof.