If you were at the UK’s V Festival over the weekend, you can smile, or at least grimace: You were on a candid camera attached to a remote-controlled spy drone that was used by local police to “keep tabs on people thought to be acting suspiciously in car parks and to gather intelligence on individuals in the crowd.” So you’re famous! Sort of. Hope you didn’t get caught taking a surreptitious whiz behind a Ferrari:
Staffordshire police said the drone’s images did not lead directly to any arrests, but one reason for using it had been to deter would-be thieves. It was not flown over the main arena because of fears that a crash might cause injuries.
The battery-operated drone’s four carbon-fibre rotors are so quiet they cannot be heard from the ground once it is higher than 50 metres, and at 100 metres up it cannot be seen with the naked eye. It can fly 500 metres high, but the Civil Aviation Authority has set an operating limit of 120 metres. The vehicle, which takes off vertically, can be flown even when out of sight, because it beams images back to video goggles worn by the operator.
Why use a drone instead of regular policemen? Why, cost, of course:
There is no legal barrier preventing a private security firm or a paparazzo photographer from using the technology, but MW Power said that it was only licensing the vehicle to customers from the military or emergency services. It costs less than £1,000 a month to lease – an amount that would buy less than an hour’s use of a conventional helicopter.
Ah, the future: It gives us an endless number of reasons to never leave the house again.
Eye in the sky: police use drone to spy on V festival [Guardian, via Arts Blog]