Drones Are Writing Tickets For Traffic Police On Highways In China


The nightmare of bad drivers everywhere is coming true — cops in China, India and Russia are using drones to monitor traffic violations on highways.

Xinhua / Via youtube.com

That — in an ideal world — means an end to people driving in the emergency lane, illegal parking and reversing, and cigarette butts being thrown out the window.

Xinhua / Via youtube.com

Police drones from China reportedly auto-detect activities of these violations, and once they do, they will fly lower and snap a shot, according to local news site NetEase.

More than 30 violations were recorded on the first day two of the one-meter-long drones were tested in Sichuan, a southwestern province in China, when a few sought to use an emergency lane to cut lines amid heavy holiday traffic, according to NetEase.

Traffic Police, Sichuan / Via photo.weibo.com

The drone is said to be able to fly 13 feet above the ground and send data back to the police headquarters. Police from other regions of the country are also announcing the new use of traffic drones on social media.

While some question the police's motive, most people expressed support on social media.

Information Office, Sichuan Provincial People's Government / Via photo.weibo.com

"I think it's pretty good, those who misuse emergency lanes don't even think about how they are jeopardizing potential rescues," read one comment. And people urged others not to take chances: "now it's of no use for experienced drivers to memorize the locations of the highway cameras," said one popular comment on Weibo. "[Because] the camera is above us."

"Is this the beginning of tech-enhanced policing?" a traffic cop pondered on Weibo.

Gao Weiting, Shanxi traffic police / Via photo.weibo.com

Currently more than 300 unmanned drones are used in 25 provinces in China, with the number expected to rise to 1,000 by 2020. Tech-enhanced policing has been on top of the agenda for China's public security bureau for the better part of the last decade.

Johannes Eisele / AFP / Getty Images

But it's a worrisome situation in the absence of oversight when it comes to the impact of mass surveillance — the concept of tech-enhanced policing has been applied to embed internet police in NGOs and tech companies, and might help the country in cracking down on dissidents.

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The Civil Aviation Administration of China requires all drones to be registered with their place of manufacture, weight and maximum altitude before they are allowed to take off, with enforcement varying from area to area.

India and Russia have also sought to use drones to regulate traffic, while Germany uses UAVs to fight against railway vandalization.