Drone to help Riverside sheriff's department with search-and-rescue missions

THERMAL, Calif. (KABC) -- The Riverside County Sheriff's Department unveiled its newest toy, a fixed-wing drone.

The 12-pound unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, comes mounted with an HD camera capable of providing crystal clear pictures from 400 feet above to ground crews.

The department also has helicopters, but they are not always available due to weather or other emergencies. The UAVs can respond immediately as a team gets ready to go on the ground.

Wednesday was the first day that the sheriff's department began training its deputies and volunteers. It's a process that could take up to months before they officially launch them.

A 400-acre field in Thermal is where crews learn how to operate the drones while earning flight time.

The sheriff's department is partnering with Sentra, which is providing two UAVs for a year at $1 each. After the test year, the department will look into purchasing both for $80,000 to $100,000 each.

If and when that happens, the department assures the public the drone will be used solely for search-and-rescue missions.
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