Surveillance is one of the multiple tasks that drones are tasked to do especially in high risk scenarios. Traffic Police are now planning to incorporate drones into the task of keeping an eye on traffic rule offenders. Taking the lead is the London’s Metropolitan police force. In a first in Britain the Met will be deploying a drone to monitor road users by this month end, it announced.
Det Supt Andy Cox, the head of the Met’s roads and traffic policing unit, said: “This is one of many enforcement tactics being used. Its aim is to deter dangerous driving and we hope the message of ‘drive lawfully, stay safe and keep a clean licence’ is widely understood.
Road accident statistics reveal that more than 60 people have been killed on London roads in 2019, with eight deaths in a five-day period last week. Cox is the Met’s lead on Sadiq Khan’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to eliminate all deaths on the capital’s roads by 2041.
As per the Met rather than targeting all speeding motorists, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will focus on road users engaged in dangerous driving, such as racing that could potentially put others at risk. The method of operation would be:
Once the drone spots a suspect it will relay information from the drone to officers further along the road so they can pull them over. The drone has a night vision function and will be able to operate at both high and low altitudes.
Police were quick to point out that the drone’s remit will be as much about deterrence as catching lawbreakers.. Cox said: “The focus will be on dangerous drivers who are racing and those putting their lives and other people’s at risk,” adding, “However, deterrence is sometimes best achieved through intense enforcement and that’s what this capability enables.”
While the Metropolitan Police cited operational security and refused to divulge whether more UAVs would be brought into service if the first proved to be a success, it did say that deploy the drone to catch dangerous, careless or speeding motorists would cost £80,000.
The likely choice of drone is the Aeryon Skyranger drone which can carry night vision cameras as well as zoom lenses was developed for tactical surveillance by the military, has been deployed in war zones across the Middle East and is now used by 20 armed forces around the world.
French police have been using drones since 2017 to catch vehicles driving dangerously, such as trucks that tailgate other vehicles or motorists who illegally overtake. Police in Bordeaux catch up to 20 vehicles an hour, issuing them with on-the-spot fines.
Motoring organisations said the deployment of military-grade technology against drivers would “raise eyebrows” but could be cost effective. Judicious use of drone technology could definitely assist the traffic Police services across the world.
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