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Surveillance Drones Defended Boston Marathon

TETHERED CyPhy Works drones were deployed at the Boston Marathon to assist the security team in protecting runners and spectators.

The drones remained aloft for the entire race and were used to scan crowds and detect threats. They flew to 130m and their Sony cameras captured live video feeds which were transmitted in real time to operators at the MEMA control centre. Operators were able to zoom in, zoom out and replay video, as well as adjusting the position of drones.

The Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance Communications (PARC) drones are built by Danvers, Mass.-based CyPhy Works and were provided at no cost to the Boston Marathon, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

One of the drones was deployed near the starting line where many of the roughly 1 million spectators watched the race. The other monitored the Athletes’ Village located at Hopkinton High School, where an expected 30,000 runners warmed up.

This year’s event marks the first time MEMA has deployed drones. Security was tightened around the Boston Marathon after Islamist backpack bombers murdered 3 people and injured 260, many severely, at the 2013 running of the iconic event.

“Just the scale of the operation is so much larger that the exercises themselves become so much more complex,” said MEMA director, Kurt Schwartz before the event.♦

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