RC helicopters were first built and flown in the late 1960ʼs and early 1970ʼs. Back in those days they were very difficult to fly, underpowered, and just generally thought of as a crazy manʼs toy. Over the past several decades RC helicopters have evolved into very precise and easy to fly machines that are quite capable of carrying a multitude of different types of payload.
In fact, itʼs not uncommon now to see RC helicopters being used to carry cameras. An RC helicopter camera system typically consists of a vibration isolated mounting structure to which a multi-axis camera gimbal is attached. The gimbal systems are usually two or three axis. Two axis being pan and tilt and three axis being pan, tilt, and roll.
The RC helicopter camera system is controlled remotely by a camera operator and/or pilot on the ground. The operator has the ability to point the camera at any angle they need to compose a proper shot. In most cases the operator is able to view what the camera is pointing at by way of a real time wireless microwave video downlink which displays the camera feed on an LCD monitor.
Many camera systems are attached to electric powered helicopters which offer quiet and clean operation in noise and environmentally sensitive areas. These helicopters can stay aloft for as long as 20-30 minutes when properly configured. Within the last few years there have been autopilot systems available which can autonomously fly the aircraft via GPS waypoints and live bi-directional telemetry.
It wonʼt be long before you begin to see local law enforcement agencies adopting new RC helicopter camera technology to enhance their mission of protecting the public. Being less expensive to operate than large manned helicopters and also having the ability to operate in very close proximity to the ground makes RC helicopter camera systems a viable addition to law enforcement and other public service agencies.
Systems start in price at about $200 up to $4,000 depending on camera size and other factors.