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German Railways Plan To Use Drones To Catch Graffiti Artists
May 28, 2013
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A quadcopter drone mounted with a camera flies in Berlin on May 6 at Re:publica, a digital media event (Photo: Getty)

To any German graffiti artists out there: watch the skies.

Germany's national railway company, Deutsche Bahn, has announced that it will explore the use of small drones with infra-red cameras to police its properties and cut down on graffiti.

The drones will patrol the company's rail depots at night, looking for intruders who are spray-painting carriages.

Evidence gathered by the mounted cameras would then be used to prosecute vandals.

Apparently the cameras are sophisticated enough that their footage can be used to identify people's faces, even though the drones will fly almost 500 feet above the ground.

But questions are already being raised about whether the use of drones may conflict with Germany's strict anti-surveillance laws, BBC News reports.

Privacy and technology are a frequent topic of discussion in Germany. When Google sent "Street View" cameras through the country back in 2010, a full three per cent of the population requested that their houses be blurred out on the website - about 200,000 homes.

According to Deutsche Bahn, the railway drone cameras will be tightly focused on areas within the company's property lines, ensuring that no one who has not entered a depot will be caught on camera.

As of now, flying small drones on private land is allowed under German law.

Stephen Evans, a BBC correspondent in the country, suggests that the anti-graffiti drones signal that Germany "seems to be entering a legal grey area - it is not clear when the flight of a drone may become so extensive that the wider authorities need to intervene."

Drones have been in the news a lot lately - with a lot of discussion focused on the U.S. government and the Obama administration's use of drones in counterterrorism.

Closer to home, the RCMP made an interesting claim earlier this month: they say one of their police drones helped save someone's life.

The Saskatchewan RCMP announced on May 9 that they had used the small Draganflyer X4-ES helicopter drone to locate and treat a man who was injured after his car flipped over in a remote wooded area.

After the accident, the man was able to call police on his cell phone, but he didn't know where he was located.

At first, the force deployed a manned helicopter and night vision goggles to try to find him, without success. So they decided to try the Draganflyer, equipped with an infrared camera, to track him down.

Check out video of the search and rescue below:

The drone picked up three heat signatures, one of which was the accident victim. He was "curled up in a ball at the base of a tree next to a snow bank," according the official news release.

The driver was taken to a hospital in Saskatoon for treatment.

Via BBC

Related:

U.S. Army Developing Drones that Can Recognize Your Face and Intentions

The WWF Is Using Aerial Drones To Track Down Poachers

The UN Wants To Deploy Drones In Congo As Part Of Its Peacekeeping Operation

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