When most people think about Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) in the context of law enforcement, dystopian images are likely what come to mind. The influence of popular media has played its part in this, such as when movies or television programs feature quadcopters that conduct unwarranted surveillance and chase down protagonists with lethal weapons.
Recently, the quadcopter appeared in the Amazon series, The Terminal List, when a soldier deploys a sUAS known as the LOKI Mk2 to track down a character played by Chris Pratt. While it's cool to see the LOKI Mk2 take to the skies in the series, its actual use cases are lower to the ground and more interesting than any Hollywood script.
The real LOKI Mk2 from Sky-Hero is designed less for the skies, and functions instead as the eyes and ears in close-quartered indoor spaces for tactical teams in law enforcement and the military. Videos on social media of the LOKI will show footage of it sneaking through tight crawl spaces and under tables.
SEE LOKI AT THE AARDVARK TACTICAL BOOTH #124 AT THE UAV EXPO IN LAS VEGAS, SEPTEMBER 6-8, 2022!
The LOKI Mk2 is an essential need within many SWAT and tactical teams because breaching a building comes with a high risk for everyone involved when not much is known about the suspect inside. The LOKI Mk2 can greatly reduce this risk by entering buildings in place of the officers.
Features of the LOKI Mk2—such as the ability to deliver communications devices for negotiations, locate hazards, and view the layout of the building—can help officers gain further information if they are required to enter the building. With fully shielded rotors and a rugged construction, the LOKI Mk2 can also be crashed without worry.
“You can bounce it off walls and ceilings, fly it into attics, crawl spaces, under duct work—you can even fly it under furniture,” Aardvark Tactical CEO Jon Becker told Police magazine[Aardvark is the exclusive distributor of LOKI Mk2 in North America]. “Indoor tactical flight is a full-contact sport and often bouncing Loki off of the walls and floor is required to reach the objective.”
The LOKI also requires no operator training for use. Its rugged, user-repairable cloverleaf body means it can take a beating and keep on ticking. It's even able to self-right in the event of a crash. Most importantly, it's mission capable in seconds. It can transition seamlessly from light to complete darkness with its forward-facing .0008 lux day/night camera.
“The best thing about LOKI Mk2 is it just works,” a tactical drone team leader said. “In any environment or any circumstance, LOKI can get our team the information we need. It can be up and flying in seconds, and it can fly anywhere.”
Recognized with an Innovation Award at Milipol Paris 2021, the LOKI Mk2 is the first drone of its kind to be purpose-built for the unique function it performs—to serve special tactics teams in a highly secure way.
The overarching purpose of the LOKI Mk2 is to make operations for tactical teams safer and more efficient. It was designed for total and virtually effortless integration within special tactics, law enforcement, and military units.
LOKI Mk2 was developed in NATO and NATO-allied countries in conjunction with several of the world’s top counterterrorism units. It is a rugged sUAS that can operate in a completely denied environment without internet service, GPS, phone or tablet connection, or cellular service.
What makes the LOKI even more unique is its seamless relay. The drone is operated via a highly efficient Ground Control System (GCS)—an entirely analog controller that has no lagging or freezing issues, preventing crashes and ensuring real-time intelligence. A single GCS can operate multiple LOKIs, allowing one pilot to gather intelligence on several areas at once. At the same time, other operators can follow the mission through the GCS or a unique Wrist Viewer Gauntlet.
“We’re very excited about the capability that Loki Mk2 can bring to our operators," said Becker. "Although consumer sUAS systems certainly bring enhanced capability, there is nothing on the market that is purpose-built for tactical operations like LOKI. This system allows a pilot to put a camera anywhere, which prevents having to put an operator in harm’s way. I’m convinced this system will save countless lives.”
And it has.
Since its entrance into the market in 2020, the LOKI Mk2 has been integrated into more than 1,000 teams across six continents, 47 U.S. states, and all ten Canadian provinces. This includes some of the top counter-terrorism units in the world.
However, the LOKI Mk2 went through years of technical refining at Sky-Hero to get to where it is today. Mk2 is the second generation of the widely used LOKI Mk1—which was the first sUAS specifically built for indoor tactical use. But the Mk1 couldn’t be operated by just anyone—it required an expert drone operator for flight. Additionally, it didn’t have the stabilization capability of its successor. The Mk2 features plenty of upgrades, but one of the most significant is its easy deployment and operation. For Sky-Hero, Becker, and AARDVARK, another significant improvement came in the form of a tactical robotics suite.
The LOKI Mk2, while significant to the world of tactical drones, doesn’t operate alone.
Its on-the-ground partner is the Sigyn Mk1—a purpose-built, rugged ground robot for mission-intelligence gathering over rugged terrain and in difficult-to-reach spaces. Like LOKI, Sigyn features a highly sensitive Day/Night camera, analog operation for secure data relay, and the ability to carry a large array of payloads. Both drone and robot are controlled by the GCS Controller and can be integrated with the Wrist Viewer Gauntlet.
The LOKI Mk2 also boasts a range of gear built specifically for its housing and deployment. In collaboration with PROJECT7 ARMOR, another brainchild of Becker’s, Sky-Hero’s LOKI Mk2 can be carried hands-free in the ILB-LOKI backpack, which houses and provides an operating platform for up to two LOKIs. In addition, the PROJECT7 LOKI Vest Integration System (LVIS) is a practical solution for housing the GCS because it mounts directly to armor systems via MOLLE/PALS, providing protection and concealment to the GCS.
In addition to easy deployment—and by easy, we mean it can literally be thrown into the air—the LOKI Mk2 can operate in “happy dog mode,” which allows an operator to fly the drone into a room, turn it over, and switch on its IR lights for night vision.
Ultimately, the LOKI Mk2 has a lot of cool features, but its significance lies in its ability to “go first.”
The LOKI Mk2 can be sent into buildings, rooms, or any potentially risky situation, and the worst thing that can happen is that the drone will be shot down. The LOKI Mk2 puts operator safety first by going first, and that is no small thing.