By GREGORY ZELLER //
Look out above: The first-ever New York State Police aerial drones are online and on the job.
Albany announced Wednesday the official launch of the new State Police Unmanned Aerial System program, with remote rangers swooping into action above numerous Western, Central, Southern and Capital Region counties.
Four drones are scheduled to take flight this month – one each for State Police Troops A, D, F and G – with 14 additional automatons slated to be deployed by the State Police by April.
While this won’t help with larger concerns about the impending AI apocalypse, conspiracy theorists can rest easy: These eyes-in-the-sky are not mobile versions of the dreaded red-light camera, secretly tracking us every time we nudge it past 70 or change lanes without signaling.
Instead, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the drones will be used primarily to enhance public safety, assist in natural disaster responses and perform other less-prosecutorial duties.
In announcing the launch of the UAS program, the governor referenced advances like improved operational and cost efficiencies and increased trooper safety, noting “this state-of-the-art technology will improve emergency response.”
“We will continue to implement innovative technologies to improve our ability to protect New Yorkers,” the governor added Wednesday.
State Police officers entering the UAS program will be required to undergo 32 hours of hands-on training and achieve Federal Aviation Authority certification.
When they’re ready, they will pilot the drones on law-enforcement and public-safety missions that reduce official response times and provide a host of other advantages – more quickly recreating serious accidents to minimize road closures, for instance.
The New York State Trooper Foundation, which was established to advance training protocols and public services by forging partnerships between State Police and private industry, is donating 16 of the aerial drone systems to the UAS program.
“The aerial drone systems we are deploying bring substantial benefits to our troopers in the field, and are representative of our ongoing efforts to provide the tools they need to deliver outstanding service to the public,” State Police Superintendent George Beach II said in a statement. “I want to thank Gov. Cuomo and the Trooper Foundation for their continued support of the State Police.”