Friday, 11 February 2022, 18:24
On 23 December, the director general of Spain's Guardia Civil, María Gámez, gave the green light to one of the force's most daring projects in recent years, to manufacture high-tech drones in the shape of large birds to spy on organised crime criminals, gangs or terrorists without being detected. The idea is to start the project with two prototypes of 'spy birds' to be used during secret operations.
Gámez allocated 108,000 euros to the project and the force’s Air Service commissioned Aeromedia UAV, a company from A Coruña that is the leading manufacturers of small-sized aircraft in Spain with a successful record of making drones for the emergency and environmental services, the film industry and Customs surveillance.
Although there are already bird-shaped drones on the market, the Guardia Civil had specific requirements.
"The aircraft must have the appearance of a bird, which allows aerial surveillance to be carried out covertly, making it difficult for the subjects on whom the surveillance falls to detect the aircraft," Guardia Civil technicians said at the outset.
In addition, the spy birds needed to not sound like drones and be "propelled" by a "silent electric motor that allows the noise footprint to be reduced as much as possible.”
“The characteristics of the system must allow it to operate close to the targets, respecting general conditions such as those specific to flight without being recognised,” the Guardia Civil added in its tender according to documents seen by SUR.
In addition, drones must have a "versatile" system, which "does not require any type of additional takeoff or landing platform." In other words, it has "the ability to take off and land on any type of terrain.”
The Guardia Civil has not revealed what type of bird the drones will be disguised as. But it will have hawk-like vision. Among the features required of the Galician company is that the drones must have an integrated "intelligent video surveillance system with video capture sensors" that is capable of "recognising" vehicle plates in real time at least 180 metres away, people at 280 metres and being able to "identify" light vehicles up to 680 metres.
To pass for birds, the drones should not measure more than one metre in length and two metres in wingspan. They must also not weigh more than 3.5 kilos and be able to stay in the air for at least 50 minutes.
El Diario Vasco
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