“Sometimes birds attack the drones,” says Didier Lallement, spokesman for the Paris police. Otherwise, flight operations work properly. “Drones do not replace police officers, but they do help us to gather information.”
The small airplanes circle over the boulevards and squares of the French metropolis and other cities like Nice, also to monitor the exit restrictions . “Pay attention to the safety distance” or “Only leave the house if absolutely necessary” are the loudspeaker messages.
The French police are not alone. Italy, Great Britain, Belgium, Spain and other EU countries also use drones in the corona crisis, as do India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and of course China. Videos from the People's Republic, in which drones urge passers-by to go home or wear masks, became an internet hit in February. Today there are such pictures from half the world.
Threats with disinfectant
Depending on the equipment of the drone, these streets and squares fly over and send pictures to the police, who then evaluates them – partly automatically with an AI or manually. Speakers, often retrofitted, can also make announcements and provide information about the exit restrictions, for example.
The video from China also attracted attention because the drone pilot apparently targeted individual people. However, the announcements are mostly automated and sound in a continuous loop. Some copies are also equipped with sprinklers and can spray disinfectants. This is shown, for example, by photographs from Indian slums.
Drones are also flying in Germany
The use of technology is polarizing. In the UK, police have been sharply criticized for dealing with the drone images in recent days. For example, recordings were published that show walkers and were marked “not essential” – a kind of digital lockdown pillory. If you get caught on “unnecessary” trips more often, you have to pay a fine of up to 1000, the police warn.
In Germany, the probability of spotting a drone in corona use is extremely low. However, the first federal states are testing the technology. In North Rhine-Westphalia, the police use their drones in Dortmund and Düsseldorf – “also to provide information about health risks if the ban on contact is not complied with,” as a spokesman for the Interior Ministry confirmed in the Tagesspiegel Background.
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“Smaller groups of people were asked to leave their seats at popular meeting points using loudspeakers built into the drones,” it continues. The operational experience with the drones is positive.
Bavaria has the aircraft lift off in order to observe the congestion caused by the introduced border controls: “Currently, drones for assessing the location, as in the backwater areas at the borders, are considered Supplement to the helicopter in use, ”said a spokesman for the Interior Ministry. “However, loudspeaker announcements are not carried out with drones.”
Berlin only has two drones
Other federal states, on the other hand, are currently not planning any corona missions in the air. “Enforcement of the legal regulation is about quick, present action. This can be guaranteed above all by physical patrol, ”says Baden-Württemberg, for example. It sounds similar in Berlin: “Control measures are always checked personally by the police officers employed.” However, the police currently only have two drones available – in total. Hamburg, actually a pioneer in inner-city drone flights, is also waving away. A corona use is not considered, according to the interior authority.
Especially in Asia, transport drones take over deliveries in the corona crisis – such as medicines, so that older people do not have to go to the pharmacy. Hospitals in China are also partially supplied in this way: drones are often faster than delivery vans.
“Transporting rapid tests and many other medical products would also be conceivable. The possible uses are multi-layered and could create great relief and save lives for millions of people, ”said Gernot-Rüdiger Engel of the Tagesspiegel Background. The lawyer at the law firm Luther is a member of the drone advisory board of the Federal Ministry of Transport (BMVI).
“In this exceptional situation, drones could provide support to solve the extreme supply problems. I'm thinking of drone flights with urgently needed supplies right up to the living room window without a supplier carrying germs into your home, ”says Engel. But while the police are allowed to use drones, it is not that easy for suppliers.
When drones were first used in the health sector, it had been shown that “there are legal hurdles, especially in urban areas, and the regulatory framework in Germany is often even tighter than the EU regulations for drones require, ”says Cornelia Yzer, responsible for Health Care at Luther. Even a catastrophe does little to change that.