Miami-Dade's new eye in the sky resembles E.T. more than it does a helicopter.
The "T Hawk," an unmanned drone, is set to lift off over crime scenes in the county, officials said Thursday. But forgive crooks for laughing when they see the tiny aircraft come into view.
The 18-pound, weaponless T Hawk resembles a flying trash can and sounds like a weed whacker when it is in flight. Think of your kid's remote control airplane, only uglier.
Usually, cops use intimidating choppers to track down criminals or to get a bird's eye view of a crime scene. But those big birds can be expensive and the county doesn't have a lot of dough to toss around.
So officials turned to the military for ideas. They came back with drones, but not the predator-looking unmanned vehicles you see in commercials.
But what the T Hawk loses in style, it gains in substance. The patrol vehicle will be used in hostile situations like hostage situations when a helicopter with officers could be in harms way if a gunman decided to take shots at them.
The drones are mounted with a camera and takes real time video of a situation and relays it to a laptop being manned by its "pilot," who is never too far away. The drones also have night vision (creepy UFO lights are optional).
And then there is cost. Miami-Dade Police have two of the baby birds and paid a grand total of $1 for them.
The FAA hasn't cleared the T Hawk for take off yet because they consider it an experimental aircraft, but Miami-Dade would be the first local police agency in the nation to be authorized to use the drones.
As for the looks, maybe police can apply a cool paint job before each mission.