01/25/2014 10:45 EST | Updated 03/27/2014 05:59 EDT

RCMP drone patrols P.E.I. skies

RCMP have a new drone patrolling the skies of P.E.I. to get aerial perspectives on crashes and perhaps help with search and rescues.

The miniature helicopter caries a camera and operates by remote control. The unmanned aerial vehicle, as it's officially known, was custom-built for $18,000 for Saskatchewan RCMP. They gave it to Island police for free.

“The helicopter is carrying a Canon stock camera, like you'd buy at Future Shop or Staples. It's plugged into a live, encrypted, down link," RCMP spokesman Greg McCormick explained.

"It's a multi-rotor helicopter. There are six blades. It's made of carbon fibre.”

It fits in the back of a police cruiser and can be deployed in minutes. RCMP have just one regular helicopter to serve all of Atlantic Canada, so mini-copters could assist by taking aerial photos of highway accidents for crash analysts.

It may also help find missing people, RCMP said.

15-minute battery life

Sgt. Andrew Blackadar tested out the craft this week. "Actually it's a bit of fun. It's like a remote-controlled car, but a bit more sophisticated and it takes two of us to operate it," he said.

McCormick said it wouldn’t work for covert surveillance. “We don't use it for covert work. As you can tell, it's quite loud. It would certainly be a giveaway to its purpose,” he said as the drone buzzed overhead.

Its rechargeable battery only lasts for 15 minutes and it struggles in high winds.