Feeds

Liverpool police get mini-Black Helicopter

Cyber-copters pack whisper mode, nightsight CCTV

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The era of Robocop - and perhaps of the surveillance society - came a step nearer today with the announcement that Merseyside plods have started trialling a flying police robot.

The scally sky-patrolman, unlike military kill-bots such as the US Reaper, isn't intended for any active role. It is purely an observation platform, mounting CCTV with a range of imaging options.

The Scouse law-enforcers' eye in the sky is the "hicam microdrone", a German battery-powered quad-rotor helicopter which weighs less than 1kg and is less than 1 metre in diameter, according to reports. The diminutive cyber-copter can apparently stay up for 20 minutes per battery charge and its UK distributors say that it is capable of "immediate deployment from car/dog van/other." YouTube footage is available here.

The microdrone apparently has a highly capable autopilot, making it much easier to fly than a normal remote-control helicopter.

A spokesman for the machine's UK distributor said "it is pretty much forward, back, left, right and record". Apparently, the microdrone is exempt from air-traffic restrictions in much the same way toy aircraft are. The autopilot can navigate GPS waypoints or hover autonomously, and is also capable of landing itself if the control signal is lost.

The flying robo-constable is also "almost silent" in use, and "allows entirely covert operation".

The UK distributor spokesman said the aircraft are "military derived...obviously I can't talk too much about that particular use...they are essentially reconnaissance tools."

Since the microdrone isn't listed among those used by the regular UK military, this might indicate that the British special forces have taken an interest in the diminutive stealth-chopper, perhaps in a counter-terrorism role. This would fit in with the Merseyside plods' reported plans to test it in firearms operations, as well as for more mundane tasks such as monitoring traffic congestion and crowds.

According to the Guardian, the spy drone will also "track criminals and record anti-social behaviour".

Given the aircraft's attributes, conspiracy theorists will be pleased to note that it seems to be available in just one colour: black. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.