Qld Police Minister Jo-Ann Miller said images captured by the drones would provide invaluable evidence in court.
“These new drones will offer investigators the opportunity to record a comprehensive aerial overview of crime scenes – something that they haven’t been able to do before now,” Miller said.
“The drones will also be used in the forensic search for evidence in places that were previously inaccessible – for example, on a roof, down a cliff or over a very large distance.”
The first drone is an off the shelf four-motor DJI Inspire worth over $5000. The other is a custom built eight-motor drone costing $18,000. Both drones are fitted with a 4K resolution camera capable of taking stills, video and 3D images.
Queensland Police began looking for options to use drones in 2010 and was approved by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in 2013. Officers must first complete CASA flight training before piloting the drones.
So far, the Queensland government has committed $23,000 to QPS for drones and training, with CASA flight training costing around $5500.
The drones have already been used in forensic investigations, the first being a house fire in Beenleigh last month. Pilots were able to gather data from angles not usually accessible to forensic investigators in order to analyse structural damage from above.
QPS also has a ground control station, allowing pilots to communicate with airports when a drone is flying, as well as signalling its position to other aircraft in the sky. Under CASA regulations, commercial drones are limited to flying under 121 metres.
The drones are constructed from carbon fibre and have a battery life of around 15 minutes. Each drone weighs just over 2kg when equipped with cameras.
Sergeant Clint Hanson is the only member of the forensics group who has been certified to fly the drones so far. QSP expects to have at least three or four pilots trained by the end of the year.