German railway to deploy drones to thwart graffiti vandals

The rapid uptick in drones entering the commercial market has also led to companies thinking of new, and sometimes troubling ways in which to use these devices. And while science fiction movies often depict cities with robotic law enforcement tools as chilling dystopias, most techies seem optimistic about the possible benefits drones can offer. Despite the dark scenarios foreshadowed in fiction, it appears that at least one major country is about to get a very real taste of drone policing, primarily targeting street art.

According to a report in the BBC, Germany's national railway company, Deutsche Bahn, plans to deploy a fleet of drones in a bid to decrease the amount of graffiti at the company's train stations. The cameras will reportedly use infrared cameras to capture footage of anyone committing the crime on the company's property, after which that footage will be used to prosecute the offending scribbler.

This development is particularly interesting considering the country's firm stance on the privacy rights of its citizens. That issue recently came to a head as country officials directed increased scrutiny toward the privacy policies of companies such as Facebook and Google, for its Street View cars. In fact, the issue of privacy in Germany is so serious that many residents have actually forced Google to blur out their homes so that they cannot be viewed on Google Maps' Street View mode.

Thus, it seems likely that there will be some local protest if drone programs similar to Deutsche Bahn's become the norm domestically. In the meantime, Germany's little experiment could offer the rest of the world a window into how the next phase of drone-assisted law enforcement will develop in our major cities.


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