Cape’s Integration Pilot Program (IPP) Selection and the Future of BVLOS


By: Kabe Termes

On a muggy day in May, Secretary of Transportation Chao stepped up to a microphone and looked out at a packed house at the Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington, DC. She graciously acknowledged the 159 cities, states, and tribal governments that had taken the time to complete a lengthy application to be considered by the DOT for a project that will shape the future of drone regulation in the United States. She then read the names of the ten selectees. The IPP had officially been announced.

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program (IPP) was announced by Presidential memorandum in October of 2017. The initiative directed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to coordinate with local, state and tribal governments, who would partner with private sector participants to safely explore the future of integration of drone operations. Specifically, the program is designed to create a regulatory framework in which Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) and flight over people technologies can be approved for real-world, urban environments. The outcome of these tests will shape future UAS and FAA regulation.

The City of San Diego was chosen as one of the 10 selected submissions. Their application pairs public entities such as the City San Diego, Chula Vista, and the San Diego Port Authority with private partners including Cape, Qualcomm, GE, UCSD Health, Matternet, AirMap, Uber, and AT&T. This public-private partnership will be perfectly positioned to demonstrate the useability and benefits of drone technology for first responders and in package delivery.

Cape’s road to inclusion in San Diego’s IPP began with Captain Fritz Reber of the Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD). He had contacted Cape after learning about Cape Aerial Telepresence™ online. Cpt. Reber had a grand vision for the potential role for drones in daily police operations. His vision was in near perfect alignment with Cape's own operational history and ambitions for the future. A natural collaboration between CVPD and Cape was established.  When the IPP application process was announced, Cape and CVPD agreed to partner with the City of San Diego in a collaborative application that would ultimately win the approval of the IPP selection committee.

Captain Fritz Reber with Cape Operations Team

Captain Fritz Reber with Cape Operations Team

Over the course of the IPP, Cape plans to work directly with the CVPD and other public and private partners to demonstrate that BVLOS and urban operations can be conducted safely and efficiently to improve outcomes today utilizing Cape Aerial Telepresence™ technology. The new operational paradigm for the dispatch of public safety resources will significantly reduce the “eyes on scene” time and greatly increase situational awareness for responding officers. This will benefit the citizens of Chula Vista as well as the officers of CVPD by making more efficient use of resources and by increasing the safety of incident response.

Using the “Cape Dispatch Model”, drone launch points will be placed strategically around the city of Chula Vista to provide maximum coverage and minimize response time. This will allow for a drone to be dispatched within 30 seconds after a call for service is received at the dispatch center. The drone, flying at nearly 40 mph, would arrive on the scene of the call and utilize Cape Aerial Telepresence™ to transmit a live feed to the dispatch center,responding officers, and the watch command. The drone effectively becomes the "first officer on the scene" that can provide critical real-time information in a fraction of the time it takes officers to deploy to the location currently.In an industry where mere seconds can save lives, that’s a very big deal.

This model has been proven all over the world and Cape is no stranger to BVLOS and urban flight. In March of 2017, Cape was contracted by the Jordanian government to provide aerial observation technology utilizing drones for the Arab League Summit. Cape’s operations staff deployed to Jordan several weeks in advance of the event and worked directly with the Jordanian Royal Guard to develop safe standard operating procedures for flight over people, BVLOS, and night flight. Using these operational techniques and utilizing Cape’s Aerial Telepresence Technology, the Royal Guard was able to safely provide around the clock security for the summit ensuring the security of the hundreds of participants and dozens of world leaders in attendance.

In the summer of 2017, following the resounding success of the Arab League Summit, Cape partnered with the City of Ensenada, Mexico, to deploy Cape’s Aerial Telepresence™ into daily police dispatch. Utilizing a single DJI Inspire and Cape’s drone software technology, the city of Ensenada reported a 10% drop in city wide crime and a 30% reduction in home burglary after a six-month pilot project.

Cape is extremely excited to bring these same levels of success to the United States and we look forward to unlocking the potential of Cape Aerial Telepresence™ as part of the IPP.