German national railway company Deutsche Bahn has come up with an ambitious plan to try and curb graffiti artists – drones. No, these aren’t the same drones that drop missiles or bombs. Instead, these stealth flying machines would be equipped with infrared cameras designed to capture vandals in the process.
The drones in question are four-rotor, battery-powered helicopters that can fly for up to 80 minutes on a single charge. They can travel up to 25 miles on autopilot and can hit a top speed of about 34 mph. What's more, the drones can hover nearly 500 feet off the ground in near-silence.
Each would cost roughly 60,000 euros which seems like a substantial amount of money just to help deter some vandals but when you factor in the 14,000 incidents of graffiti reported in 2012 that cost 7.6 million euros to clean up, it could be a cost-effective option.
Deutsche Bahn will start testing the drones over the coming weeks, we’re told. The company hopes to be able to dispatch security personnel in real-time and use photographic evidence to help build a case against culprits in court.
This all sounds great from the outside but one must not forget that Germany has very strict privacy / anti-surveillance laws – so much so that Google elected to abandon Street View imagery in the country a few years back. As such, the use of camera-equipped drones is likely to cause a pretty big stink with authorities.