TMCnet Feature Free eNews Subscription
August 28, 2023

Blake Resnick's BRINC Drone the LEMUR 2 Is Set to Shake Up Public Safety

In a recent podcast interview with GeekWire, BRINC founder and CEO Blake Resnick recounted the moment the production version LEMUR 2 took its first flight. Although the 23-year-old engineer was in the midst of a board meeting when it occurred, he and the other board members paused and reveled in the moment when they heard the office outside erupt in resounding cheers as the quadcopter took to the air.

First unveiled in March of this year, the LEMUR 2 is the culmination of 18 months of work by Resnick and the entire BRINC team. The new drone builds on the learnings from its previous versions, which began as a single prototype built on the kitchen table of Resnick’s mom. Just 17-years-old at the time, he had dropped out of the mechanical engineering program at Northwestern University in order to found BRINC Drones in response to the deadly mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in his hometown of Las Vegas.

Blake Resnick has said he had a passion for figuring out how things worked from an early age, spending his free time in his childhood deconstructing household appliances. He also bucked traditional schooling trajectories, choosing to earn his high school equivalent and begin attending college for mechanical engineering at just 14. For three years he studied at university while also earning prestigious internships at companies like McLaren Automotive and Tesla, before he was even legally able to drive himself.

While at an internship with the Chinese drone manufacturing giant DJI, Resnick began toying with the idea of forming his own drone company. Envisioning the endless applications for autonomous or remotely-operated flying devices, it was only when he spoke with the Las Vegas Metro SWAT commander in the aftermath of the October 1st mass shooting on the Strip that he realized public safety was an area in which they could have the greatest impact.

In addition to learning about the challenges first responders faced during what became the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, the SWAT commander also provided Resnick with information on the broader aspects of their line of work, which could include hostage situations, barricades, and high-risk warrant searches—all of which posed significant safety risks for those involved.

Resnick spent months building an initial design for the drone, and then more than double the amount of time after that creating a second iteration after his first was handily critiqued by the Las Vegas SWAT team in an early demonstration. He has recalled one particularly humbling moment in which an officer walked up to the drone Resnick had spent months of free time building and simply swatted it to the ground with a towel. It landed on its back, rendering it inoperable until someone was able to physically pick it up and flip it back over. The officer tersely explained that exact scenario was guaranteed to happen within the first five minutes of a SWAT callout, and said it would be a worthless tool to them without the ability to flip itself back over.

He would eventually spend six months on call with the Las Vegas Metro SWAT trialing the drone, and by the end of the half-year it was making a quantifiable impact on the missions. Officers could use the drone to enter a structure and search it out, either confirming the suspect wasn’t there, or finding them and enabling two-way communications to begin a conversation. Resnick had built the first drone in the world with a bidirectional audio system, and Las Vegas Metro became the first customer of the BRINC LEMUR drone.

Today, BRINC has raised more than $80 million in capital, attracting funding from Index Ventures, Sam Altman (News - Alert), Dylan Field and Alexandr Wang amongst other major players in the venture capital and technology sectors. BRINC drones are currently operated by over 400 customers across the globe, and have been used for countless public safety applications including SWAT tactical missions, the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida, the war in Ukraine, and earthquake relief in Turkey.

The Lemur 2 

When he first introduced the LEMUR 2 to the world in March of this year, Resnick told the audience “welcome to the future of public safety.” A tool with primary use cases around tactical (over 400 safety agencies currently have purchased BRINC drones across the globe), it also has applications in search and rescue, hazmat response, bomb disposal operations, barricades, and negotiations amongst other public safety verticals.

Most drones rely heavily on GPS technology, using it not only for navigation but a number of other purposes such as helping it maintain a stable position in the air. However, there are often situations in which GPS capabilities become unavailable, such as in when signaling is blocked by solid obstacles such as concrete. Another weakness that would prevent a standard drone from functioning in public safety is its reliance on conventional cameras for localization and navigation, which are again rendered useless in low-light scenarios.

Resnick’s BRINC drones were built on a system that remains robust in these conditions. They are equipped with a LiDAR sensor, which uses laser beams to measure distances to objects and surfaces, creating a detailed 3D representation of the environment. After scanning its surroundings with the LiDAR sensor, the drones use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms to identify specific tracking points or objects of interest. These algorithms analyze the LiDAR data and learn to recognize important features. Once the tracking points are identified, the drones use a high-powered night vision illuminator camera to track these points as they move. This camera is capable of capturing clear images even in low-light or nighttime conditions. Utilizing an IMU that employs both accelerometers and gyroscopes to measure and report its precise force and angular rate, the drone can navigate effectively even in the absence of GPS functionality.

In addition to blocking GPS signals, concrete tends to block cellular signals, command and control signals, and video signals. While this can be bypassed by using lower frequency comms, Resnick’s new LEMUR 2 drones have the capability to act as signal repeaters, generating large mesh networks between drones, handheld controllers, and even body-worn radios. This means that if one drone is not able to reach the full distance before it begins losing communication capabilities, it can simply land and be used as a signal repeater, allowing another drone to complete the job.

Resnick has called the LEMUR 2 the next era of first response technology, asserting that it will make law enforcement and emergency services in the United States more efficient and safer for all involved. Pre-orders for the drone began in March, and shipments are scheduled to begin in the third quarter of this year. Resnick believes that the applications for BRINC drones have the potential to eventually make the police helicopter an obsolete tool, providing critical assistance to first responders and saving more lives in the process.

» More TMCnet Feature Articles
Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox. [Free eNews Subscription]


» More TMCnet Feature Articles