The increase in the number of crimes in Cape Town has prompted the city to test drones in the fight against crime. This was made possible using drones as aerial surveillance tools during police raids.
These security drones can track criminals from above, even during the night.
The new development follows a report on the testing of surveillance drones (also known as RPA – remotely piloted aircraft) during police raids in Cape Town.
Cape Town recently tested the drones while police carried out a drug bust in the Cape Flats. A drone with an infrared camera was launched nearby and watched from above upon arriving at the suspect’s house.
The drone would capture any suspects who runaway, hid, or throw weapons or drugs away.
A drone gives similar aerial support as a helicopter without the hassle of all the paperwork and expense of a pilot and fuel.
Features of a drone
It has a x8 design with four arms and eight motors, operates at an altitude of 50m – 150m in police speed of over 100km/h, but in normal flight the speed is roughly between 40-60 km/h depending on flight conditions.
In the test run during the police bust, the RPA tracked suspects from above using its thermal imaging. The drone was also equipped with a Sony TV camera and an LED spotlight on a gyroscope.
Mayoral Committee Member Safety and Security for the City of Cape Town JP Smith said the test was a success, and the use of drones is effective in a multitude of situations – not only in police raids.
Cape Town is planning to use a fixed-wing push prop drone for anti-metal theft operations in Philippi. The drone stays above ground for three hours, checking the contents of scrap yards before a raid. It can also be used to check disaster scenes during and after an emergency, check land invasions, and monitor informal structure creep.
Drones are a cost-effective way to do remote controlled camera surveillance and photography rather than owning or hiring helicopters.
Challenges of using drones in SA
The extensive use of drones is a challenge in South Africa owing to strict Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulations that currently in place while policy on the matter is drafted.
Getting a licence to manage a drone for precise operations is time-consuming and expensive. As such, the use of all drones is currently illegal in the country.