Ordinarily, drones flying around airports are thought of as a hazard. The AtlasNEST system, however, utilizes drones to fly over landing areas where problems may be occurring, in order to give control tower workers a bird's eye view.
Developed by Latvian firm Atlas Aerospace, AtlasNEST consists of an outdoor docking station which houses one of the company's AtlasPRO tricopter drones. Multiple stations can be set up around one airport, depending on how large and/or busy that airport is. All that's required for each station is an electrical outlet.
If someone in the control tower wishes to check out a suspicious vehicle, monitor the landing of a plane that's in trouble, see if a certain runway really is clear – or otherwise get a good look at something that's far from the tower – they remotely trigger the AtlasNEST.
It responds by launching its drone, which autonomously flies to the provided coordinates to transmit a real-time aerial view from its 10x-optical-zoom thermal camera.
The AtlasPRO has a claimed runtime of 32 minutes, a communications range of up to 10 km (6 miles) via LTE, and it autonomously returns to the station when its job is done. A freshly charged battery is then robotically swapped into the aircraft, so it's ready to go out again at a moment's notice.
Atlas Aerospace is offering the AtlasNEST via leasing programs that start at €4,200 (about US$4,479) per month.
There's more information in the following video.
AtlasNEST Airport Solution
Source: Atlas Aerospace