President Donald Trump has embarked on a controversial 17-day vacation to his golf club in New Jersey. To help keep him safe, the Secret Service plans to use a security drone to monitor him and the surrounding area. The small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) will be used as a proof-of-concept for future security work.
The sprawling Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster will be monitored from about 300-400 feet above by the DHS drone. While most consumer drones have a battery life of less than an hour, the sUAS will utilize a microfilament cable that allows it to stay aloft almost indefinitely. The tether will provide power to the drone and transmit the video signal from the aircraft's multiple cameras.
While details about the drone's specifics are obviously classified, it does make sense on a golf course where there are no real vantage points to observe the full area.
Before drones, the Secret Service typically relied on helicopters or other manned aircraft for aerial surveillance. While they can fly higher than a drone, they need to refuel and are very loud.
The DHS is also currently conducting a privacy impact assessment since the drone may inadvertently capture images of surrounding areas and other guests at the course. They are planning to notify everyone within the drone's field of view but say all images will be overwritten within 30 days unless the photos become part of a law enforcement investigation.