Tactical Advantages of Deploying a Telescoping Mast Over a Drone (UAV)

When it comes to responding to an incident or staying proactive in an emergency situation, speed, efficiency, and reliability are the most important deployment requirements. Incident responses that demand having eyes on a situation, require that these elements must work together seamlessly; especially if lives, and risks to general safety and property are at stake.

That’s why The RATT utilizes telescoping masts, which have time and again been proven to be more reliable, easier to deploy, and offer short- and long-term sustainability unachievable with a standard drone.

Necessary Real-Time Benefits

Utilizing a telescoping mast or portable tower for surveillance should be at the forefront of your situational awareness priorities; especially if you work in law enforcement, fire, or any other first responder field where seconds count.

Use of a telescoping mast can be a superior choice over drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), due to critical concerns inherent with drone use regarding weather, personal safety, responsiveness, ease of accessibility, and even time of day. Here are just a few of the many benefits a surveillance camera on a telescoping mast can have on your operational effectiveness:

– They’re easy to hook to a 2×2” hitch receiver and deploy quickly.
– Our Rapid All-Terrain Tower (RATT) can be deployed to 50’ within 90 seconds, on any terrain.
– They’re virtually maintenance free and do not require batteries or software updates.
– Built-in redundancies ensure the mast deploys even if the electric pump fails.
– Safer for use in and around crowds.
– They do not require an FAA UAV pilot’s license or extensive training to use.
– They can be utilized for temporary or permanent deployments with fewer limitations.

Major practical and technical differences between The RATT’s telescoping mast and a drone.

When considering the best option, one must also research the camera. There have been many advances made in drone technology in recent years; however, the primary purpose of most of the drones available in the retail market is split between videography and still photography for recreational and commercial use, with the vast majority considered to be at a “consumer-grade” level of technology. There is only a very small handful of highly specialized, and thus very expensive, drone systems that are considered “professional surveillance-grade.”

The RATT uses various PTZ cameras with varifocal lenses that are far more superior for surveillance. Many feature optical zoom levels of 55x at the highest quality recording. Whereas the majority of drones adopt a digital zoom (ePTZ) somewhere between 2x and 8x and typically reduce in quality (around 640×512) the more extensive the zoom. It can also see better in the dark than most drones.

Deploying a drone for surveillance entails a number of considerable constraints. Here are the most significant of those:

1. Proper setup of the transceiver, pairing it with the view and control device (usually a tablet or smartphone of some sort), preflight checklist procedures, survey of potential hazardous obstacles in the vicinity, and an up-to-the-minute awareness of and Notice to Airmen (NOTAMS) because of the proximity to any FAA controlled airspaces nearby, i.e. airports of several classes that restrict drone operations.

2. Limited time in the air due to battery capacity limitations. Even the best of current drones – usually very small aircraft with limited video capabilities – at best, offer just 40 minutes of flight time, with the rest only capable of between 18 to 30 minutes. So gaps in surveillance due to the necessity of landing, changing batteries (and often recording media), then redeploying are just facts of drone operations.

3. Weather conditions cause considerable havoc to drone operations, as well. The smaller the aircraft, the more vulnerable they are to strong winds – not only in carrying the aircraft off out of control, but also limiting battery life further as the flight control system fights to maintain position. Temperature extremes are also a limiting factor, with most only operating safely between 14°F to 104°F (-10°C to 40°C). Temperature also has an effect on battery life. Cold temperatures sap the life of the lithium-polymer battery more quickly than temperate weather, and the thin air of high temperature days means the motors have to work harder to keep the aircraft aloft. Both are added drains to battery life, thus shortening flight times. Again, but for a small handful of highly specialized drones, the rest cannot fly under weather conditions where any precipitation is present. The motor housings are usually open to the air at their tops to provide cooling for the high-powered, high-speed motors. Those same openings allow moisture access from rain or snow. Moisture access means a very high potential for shorting the motors, causing a catastrophic failure, and subsequent crash.

4. Proximity to large, open public venues and flights over crowds of people are strictly prohibited without a waiver to the FAA’s UAS Part 107 Rule regarding commercial drone flight operations. These waivers usually require several days to process.

5. Again, without an FAA waiver, drones are not permitted to operate at night from the period of time thirty minutes after sunset to thirty minutes before dawn the next day (and that thirty minutes on each end is allowed only if the aircraft has safety running light installed).

telescoping mast advantage benefit drone no fly zone restricted drone area FAA
No Drone Zone

RATT’s telescoping mast requires no FAA waivers to operate at night, nor to operate in and around crowds or open air venues. It represents no safety hazard as a crashing drone can, regardless of its small size; and it is silent in operation, unlike a drone, which the sound from is usually described as being similar to a hive of angry bees.

Extended On-Site Use

Beyond the speed and ease of deployment, the primary advantage of The RATT over a drone is its ability to function efficiently for whatever duration of time is required without interruption. A drone, while useful in certain situations, will always be limited by its relatively short flight time, and the subsequent down-time required to change batteries, and thus the resultant loss of continuous situational oversight. Couple this major weakness with all of the other constraints drone use represents – many of them outside forces beyond a pilot’s control – and it becomes plain why the use of The RATT portable tower is the superior choice. It enhances your operational effectiveness while increasing your control and safety measures.

That’s why they’re perfect for a wide range of job specialties that require surveillance, safety, outdoor events, weather monitoring, and much more. Here are just a few of the more than 30 ways a telescoping mast could support your operations:

– Video Surveillance (Law Enforcement, Protests & Sporting Events)
– Situational Awareness, Investigations or High-Risk Warrants
– EOC Live Stream of Subject, Hazmat Spills or Rescue Operations
– Border Control and Perimeter Protection (Cameras or Lighting)
– Mobile Sensors, Facial Recognition or UAV Detection Systems
– And so much more!

Want to learn more about how we can help? Feel free to get in touch with us today to see what we can do.