Note: The Commercial UAV Show, set for Oct. 21-22 in London, is being billed as the “largest global gathering of the commercial and civil UAV universe.” A key component of the show will be a review of case studies affecting the UAV industry. One example of such a study is the use of drones as a deterrent against graffiti and vandalism — as explained below.
One of Europe’s largest rail company is releasing aerial justice against the humble (but costly) spray-paint can. Train graffiti removal costs Germany’s Deutsche Bahn more than $10 million annually. So, Bahn is looking to the skies for an answer – not Superman (or a German version thereof), but rather a fleet of $77,000-per-unit drones.
The company is in the process of deploying md4-1000s quadcopters developed by Germany’s own Microdrones. According to BusinessWeek, “an md4-1000 operates in near-silence, theoretically no match for a hoodie-wearing graffiti artist going to town on the side of a train car… images from the surveillance drones would be beamed in real time to the company’s security teams and that of the Bundespolizei, the federal police force.”
Deutsche Bahn told the BBC that the UAVs could be deployed at the railway’s larger stations “where vandals enter at night and spray-paint carriages — the drones would have infra-red sensors sophisticated enough for people to be identified, providing key evidence for prosecutions.”
The railway will have to keep a careful leash on its drones – Germany has one of the most stringent set of privacy/surveillance laws in Europe.
While Drones vs. Graffiti Artists sounds like a cool new video game, skeptics say the move by Bahn may have unintended consequences. German attorney Patrick Gau tells DW.de that graffiti artists will likely see the drones or know their locations by word of mouth and move to a different spot.
“So the whole thing just gets shifted elsewhere,” he said, adding “It will probably lead to cases where you’ll see a YouTube video in which such drones are filmed, followed by two people who spray a quick image just to show: We can outsmart the Deutsche Bahn.”
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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