The Emergency Drone Responder (EDR) Magazine sits down for a Q&A with Callum Farrell, Sales Manager of Excelerate Technology Ltd

In today’s fast-paced world, situational awareness plays a crucial role in decision- making and risk management across various industries. The emergence of cutting-edge technologies like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has revolutionised how we gather aerial insights, and the need for reliable and uninterrupted connectivity has never been more critical for operators to fully harness the drones’ capabilities.

To delve deeper into this topic, EDR publisher Paul Budgen sat down with Callum Farrell, Sales Manager at Excelerate, to discuss how Excelerate’s UAV Streamer is taking situational awareness to new heights. Read on to learn more about the benefits, features, and applications of this innovative solution.

PB: Can you give us an overview of Excelerate’s UAV Streamer?

CF: Certainly! Excelerate’s UAV Streamer is a state-of-the-art solution designed to provide organisations with unparalleled situational awareness by combining drone technology with live and secure video streaming. This allows for more collaborative decision-making and a broader understanding of the situation at hand. It boasts rugged outer casing, making it suitable for use in high-pressure and hazardous environments. Its small size and lightweight design, weighing only 5.4KG, ensures easy portability. Furthermore, the impressive 8-hour battery life allows for prolonged deployments.

PB: What sets Excelerate’s UAV Streamer apart from other solutions on the market?

CF: One of the key differentiators of Excelerate’s UAV Streamer is its advanced streaming capabilities. It utilises the Exstream video application to give the drone operator the ability to share live video from the drone to an unlimited number of authorised devices simultaneously. Remote collaborators can access feeds via a smartphone or tablet, a command unit, CCTV van, or any other specialist vehicle, expanding the scope of real-time information sharing and situational awareness. Alternatively, the UAV Streamer can be configured to embed the feed into an existing VMS such as Milestone or Airbox, at no additional cost.

PB: How user-friendly is the UAV Streamer system? Do users need specialised training?

CF: The UAV Streamer requires just two steps for deployment – switch it on, and plug it into the HDMI port of the drone controller. That’s it! No specialist training required. The intuitive touchscreen interface enhances the user experience, allowing seamless customisation of stream resolution and frame rate options to meet each organisation’s specific needs.

PB: Do you have a preferred model/ manufacturer for the drone itself?

CF: At Excelerate, we are technology agnostic and aren’t tied to any specific brand, or manufacturer. Our focus is more around delivering the live streaming capability so we can add value into our customers’ existing drone systems.

PB: What about data security and privacy? How does Excelerate address these concerns?

CF: Data security and privacy are paramount in today’s digital landscape. Excelerate takes these concerns seriously and has implemented robust encryption and authentication measures to safeguard the transmitted data. Our Exstream Video Application is incredibly secure as our data centres are ISO 27001 and national critical infrastructure approved (UK only). Any footage or information streamed through Exstream is fully encrypted to provide the highest level of protection for our customers. Crucially, there is no recording capability within the UAV Streamer or network infrastructure, so recordings are confined to the SD card within the drone controller.

PB: What industries can benefit from using Excelerate’s UAV Streamer?

CF: The applications of for the UAV Streamer are diverse and span various industries, and it is particularly valuable in scenarios that demand quick and accurate decision-making. Emergency responders can use it to assess disaster- affected areas quickly and determine the best course of action. Security personnel can monitor large events or critical infrastructure for potential threats. Energy and utility companies can utilise UAV Streamer to inspect remote installations and identify maintenance needs.

PB: Can you share a real-world example of how the UAV Streamer is currently being used?

CF: Police Scotland operates five UAV Streamers for enhanced flexibility and resilience across Scotland, allowing simultaneous live drone and helicopter streaming to multiple locations. The solution allows the Air Support Unit to stream live footage from the helicopter or drone to any control room in Scotland, to police commanders on the ground and to officers’ police-issue mobile devices who are directly involved with the incident. This gives those involved a real-time, aerial view of events, enabling them to make informed decisions about an operation or search  as well as maintaining officer and public safety.

Police Scotland also utilises our portable Excell 4G LTE Optimisation Antenna as they often operate in remote and hard- to-reach locations. The antenna works by making a connection with network masts over a much greater distance than traditional methods, significantly improving network coverage and performance. It’s an ideal solution for supporting data-hungry applications like video streaming and is one of our most popular products right now.

PB: Can you tell us more about how you help your customers overcome issues with poor connectivity?

CF: At Excelerate, connectivity is at the heart of everything we do. Many of our customers who use drones stream through applications such as Microsoft Teams  or a command and control software, and while the UAV Streamer is not required, a secure Internet connection is. For example, Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) and Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) have acquired Excelerate-designed incident command units (ICUs) to enhance their emergency response capabilities. They are equipped with various communication technologies, including satellite connectivity and an Excell antenna, ensuring uninterrupted communication even in remote environments. The ICUs facilitate reliable and secure communication which includes live video streaming from the drone pilot to their platform of choice. Other drone teams utilise a Linx Hub (our portable cellular router) and tripod mounted Excell antenna to give them the same connectivity capability but in a more flexible form, which is ideal for deploying quickly at the incident ground.

PB: How else do you tailor your UAV system to meet customer requirements?

CF: Our long-standing customer South Wales Police (SWP) has been utilising drone technology for various applications, including major event security, search and rescue operations, traffic management, and surveillance for many years now. We’re proud to have supported SWP in the implementation of their five mobile CCTV vans which also act as a base for their drone teams. The vehicles are also equipped with an Excell antenna for enhanced cellular speeds and coverage which is necessary for remote deployments. We also customised their UAV Streamer by integrating it into a user-friendly rucksack. This customisation allows their drone teams to easily “plug and play” and enables officers to connect compatible hand-held cameras for live streaming and intelligence-gathering purposes.

PB: What does the future hold for the UAV Streamer? Are there any upcoming developments?

CF: Excelerate is committed to continuous innovation, and we have been actively working on enhancing our UAV Streamer’s capabilities, such as giving customers the option to include Excelerate’s Hybrid Edge SD-WAN add-on. Unlike other hybrid connectivity solutions that only switch between networks, our Hybrid Edge add-on allows users to combine the bandwidth of all the available satellite and cellular networks for maximum speed and performance. Data is compressed and optimised for even faster transmission, overcoming delays and packet loss that can occur when operating remotely.

Excelerate’s UAV Streamer and resilient connectivity solutions are a game-changer for drone teams wanting to achieve heightened situational awareness. By offering real-time streaming and enhanced remote communications, Excelerate are shaping the future of drone operations in a dynamic and impactful way.

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