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Using drones in accident reconstruction - Shenzhen Traffic Police

Josh Spires | 13 August, 2021 | The Sphere Drones Blog

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After a traffic accident, first responders are faced with two simple questions: what happened and why? Accident reconstruction is all about gathering evidence and reverse-engineering the mechanics of a scene to discover the answers.

DJI partner Shenzhen Keehang Co. has developed an end-to-end traffic accident reconstruction solution for police in Shenzhen. Drones are central to the new methodology. It’s currently being used by 14 brigades of the Shenzhen Traffic Police Division. Empowered by DJI hardware and software, officers from the Accident Handling Department of the Shenzhen Traffic Police have been able to process investigations with greater speed and efficiency than before.

Four challenges drones solve for Shenzhen’s traffic police

1. Processing investigations in half the time with half the resources

Following a traffic accident, officers on the scene traditionally must go through a laborious process that includes photographing from the ground, taking manual measurements, drawing the scene, and writing notes. All these manual steps drain departmental resources. For every accident, 2-3 officers must spend 30 minutes going through these tasks.

The introduction of drones addresses these data-gathering bottlenecks. For Shenzhen’s Traffic Police Division, a detailed map or model of the site can now be automatically generated around 15 minutes after they arrive on the scene. On top of that, one police officer with a drone can now complete all the mapping work required. This ensures the division can allocate resources with greater efficiency and reduce response times across the board.

2. Intelligent workflows and an accessible eye in the sky

The Shenzhen Traffic Police Division relies on a fleet of 100 Mavic 2 Enterprise Zooms to investigate accident scenes. Used in conjunction with the DJI Pilot and DJI Terra applications, mission planning is a simple matter of circling the target area. An appropriate route is automatically generated before the drone flies it autonomously and captures all the photos required.

3. Insights from above and high-precision modeling

Traffic police usually must rely on outdated manual processes when recording details at a scene. A tape measure is often used for measurements, for example. As well as introducing the potential for human error, these steps lack speed and precision.

With DJI Terra, time-consuming manual measurements are taken out of the equation. High precision 2D and 3D models can be quickly generated based on the photos taken by the drone. This provides a reliable reference point and ensures all information collected is accurate. Armed with a high-precision model of the scene, Shenzhen Traffic Police Division’s Insight system can output a record of a traffic accident site to complete the on-site accident handling process.

4. Making reconstructions of accident sites safer

Traffic accident scenes are dynamic and dangerous to work. For traffic police conducting on-site investigations, taking manual measurements involves safety risks. Officers need to spend an hour or more in the accident area, and the resulting traffic jam could lead to a secondary accident at any time. This could threaten the safety of the police officers and other drivers.

Drones enable intelligent, autonomous, and methodical workflows that allow first responders at the scene to focus their energy on crisis management and traffic diversion. That’s because autonomous flights simplify the equation on-scene and handle the bulk of the accident reproduction work. Measurements are taken from the images, allowing officers to go through their usual workflow without needing to walk around the accident area.

Source: DJI

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