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Canberra Police Want Drones To Track Cars 154

Posted by timothy
from the robotic-drones-in-addition-to-the-regular-ones dept.
garymortimer tips this story at the Canberra Times, which starts: "Police have suggested that Canberra's new point-to-point speed cameras be linked to unmanned aerial surveillance drones and used to track vehicles of interest to authorities. The first of the cameras, which use automated number plate recognition technology to calculate a car's average speed and whether it is within the legal limit, are due to be switched on by the end of the year." I wonder how much surveillance by drone is already being done in the U.S., especially considering that even an (admittedly high-end) home-built drone is capable of hijinks that seem to parallel the cell-phone tracking activities the FBI has been shown to employ.
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Canberra Police Want Drones To Track Cars

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  • I don't get why they want to do this with drones... It seems like a less efficient and more expensive method of tracking compared to the satellites they are using now...
    • Re:Why drones? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Tynin (634655) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @04:59PM (#37485324)

      I don't get why they want to do this with drones... It seems like a less efficient and more expensive method of tracking compared to the satellites they are using now...

      My guess would be to have more control of what they can see. Satellites look down, whereas UAV's can reposition themselves rather swiftly and look from numerous angles. The other reason would be more of a psychological one, the bad guys will some times get to see these things and perhaps will think twice, and the fearful citizen might feel like they are now more secure since the watching eye in the sky will somehow be able to protect them better.

    • by peragrin (659227)

      because Orbital mechanics make long term(several hours worth) tracking by satellites very difficult and very expensive.

      with Satellites you get an hour or two window of opportunity to view the subject and if he hides for that hour you can't track him.

      with UAV's you get on demand tracking that lasts long enough to be useful(drones can last for hours and sometimes days flying) over the same 20 mile area.

    • by killmenow (184444)
      Yeah but it's way cheaper to retrofit munitions onto drones than satellites.
    • I completely agree and I'm a big drone fan, the interest in this story has been so great it seems to have crashed my site. So sorry all those trying to look in now.
    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      If you mean GPS satellites the vehicle has to have a GPS device that is transmitting it's ID, location and speed. Very few vehicles do that.

      If you mean image satellites then you are way off. Satellites do not have the angle or resolution to read a license number so can not identify a single vehicle. They generally take still photographs so it is very difficult to spot vehicles going faster than the general flow of traffic. There are very few satellites available that can handle video. Those that can are gen

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      Aside from GPS satellites, there are no satellites capable of tracking vehicles and determining speed. Maybe you've watch Enemy of the State one too many times. That's not even how the military tracks vehicles in Afghanistan. They use drones, like the Predator.
      • I don't recall it saying anything about determining speed. It said cameras were for determining speed, the drones were for watching. Satellites can do watching perfectly fine.
        • by oodaloop (1229816)
          No. No, they can't. And by corollary, they don't. They fly very fast, so they can take a picture of any given area, but only when it's on its path. If you want lots of pictures, you need lots of satellites. Moving satellites in orbit is expensive and not done terribly often. Drones are far far far cheaper than satellites, particularly for police. Also, there are no video cameras on satellites, only still pictures. So no, satellites can't track vehicles.
  • by Mad Quacker (3327) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @05:32PM (#37485574) Homepage

    Just authorize the drones for autonomous kill functionality, this way we can take care of those evil speeders for good!

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      Actually, if they ever enforce speeding with 100% accuracy, perhaps we'll see an end to the ridiculous speed limits on roads. The current system is accepted only because everybody is allowed to violate it with near impunity.

      • by thogard (43403)

        Victoria has the highest speed limit compliance in the world with rates on some roads exceeding 99% Victoria's roads have not seen a decrease in accident rates in years unlike the rest of the world.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @05:33PM (#37485582) Journal

    ...how soon before the drones are equipped with Hellfires?

  • This is already being done except that the police use helicopters and light planes. Ever notice the big white stripes beside or across the road at regular intervals? They time how long it takes a vehicle to go between the marks and calculate the speed. I see no difference between using a drone and a helicopter. They both have pilots and watch for speeders. Just because a drone is higher tech does not make using it bad.

  • I Am Amazed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @05:38PM (#37485624)
    I am truly amazed at just how much Big Brother that the (formerly, and once fiercely) independent Australians are willing to put up with. Virtually no private ownership of guns any more. Non-opt out Internet filtering. Now P2P traffic monitoring. How long before they regulate out of existence the Aussie equivalent of the pit bull - the legendary Australian Cattle Dog?
    • Virtually no private ownership of guns any more

      At least three of my friends have gun licenses, all for recreational purposes. And I'm not even in a demographic where you'd expect gun ownership to be particularly high.

      Non-opt out Internet filtering.

      Hasn't happened yet

      Now P2P traffic monitoring.

      Huh? Where did you get P2P from? They're substituting big, expensive, noisy choppers for small, cheap, quiet drones

      How long before they regulate out of existence the Aussie equivalent of the pit bull - the legendary Australian Cattle Dog?

      Actually, the American Pit Bull is pretty much legislated out of existence. On the other hand, nobody's ever suggested legislation against cattle dogs as far as I'm aware - they don't have a breed temperament

    • Re:I Am Amazed (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cimexus (1355033) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @06:18PM (#37486016)

      I think you might have taken a few exaggerated and inaccurate Slashdot headlines without the requisite grain of salt:

      - Your point about guns is true, but keep in mind the context you are talking about here. There was very, very little private ownership of guns in Australia from the start. Gun laws were indeed toughened up and a buy-back instituted during the late 90s but it wasn't a particularly controversial issue because we simply don't have the gun culture that countries like the US do. If you have a legitimate reason to own guns (sports shooter, farmer, security, etc etc.) and are appropriately licensed, you could, and still can, own a gun. But the rest of us don't care that we can't because 99.9% of us never did and have probably never thought about guns in our lives.

      - What non-opt out internet filtering? Please stop spreading this myth. That proposal never even made it to the "introduced into Parliament as a Bill" stage, let alone actually got through the House and Senate and enacted into law. It was shot down in flames by the public and by most of the political parties. Two ISPs did implement a very basic filter blocking a handful of sites using a trivial-to-overcome method (they were not forced to do so - they did it of their own accord). But there are literally dozens of choices of ISPs in almost every area and if you don't like it, you are free to move to on of the other 95% of ISPs who don't filter.

      - What P2P traffic monitoring? I honestly have no idea what you are talking about and I follow the Internet industry here pretty closely. Are you confusing something you've read about a ~particular~ ISP's policy, and applying that to the country as a whole?

      - Aussie cattle dogs as common as mud here - the stereotypical farmer's or tradesman's dog. They don't generally have the same temperament as a pit bull so I'm not sure why they would be legislated against? Particularly as they are considered a national icon in many ways.

      Look I understand where you're coming from, but please, please remember that Slashdot articles are often hyped up, inaccurate and filled with hyperbole. Doubly so for stories originating outside the US where readers might not be aware of the other relevant facts and overall context of the article. The net filtering thing is a good example - it was constantly reported on here as if it was a done deal and we were all going to be subject to mandatory filtering, whereas the reality on the ground is that it was politically untenable and most people could see it couldn't/wasn't going to happen. And it didn't. A proposal by a few senators does not equal an enacted law ... but to this day half of Slashdot seems to think there is some kind of mandatory government-forced filtering here.

      The Australian character has changed over the last few decades to be sure (although not so much once you move outside of the large cities). That is inevitable - we are still a young country that is still maturing in many ways. What has changed though is the degree to which every little idea, random thought and proposal is reported on (often in as inflammatory language as possible to get page views).

      There are plenty of legitimate criticisms to be levelled against Australia without having to make things up. And on the flip side there are plenty of areas in which we can say we have resisted some of the big brother stuff seen in other countries - we have nowhere near the level of CCTV coverage as Europe does, we still have decent warrant requirements and safeguards regarding wiretapping, we have strong privacy and consumer protection laws, and we can still get on a plane without being nudie scanned, without taking our shoes off, without having to package up our liquids into sandwich bags etc etc. Every country has its vices and I don't think anywhere can truly say it's resisted Big Brother completely, unfortunately.

      • by Ocker3 (1232550)
        The most extreme security measures I've seen at an Australian airport security site was the explosive swab-down, which I've had twice. I'm willing to go through that Every time I fly if it means we avoid those silly scanners and invasive pat-downs. You stand there with your arms out, they run a wand over different parts of your body (it has a felt tip), they wait a few seconds for an analysis, and you're done! Incredibily minimally invasive. The vast majority of Australian murders are crimes of passion, an
    • by Rich0 (548339)

      I've actually started to wonder if the solution to government monitoring is to just open source it.

      Imagine tons of cameras posting GUIDs for faces and plate numbers with timestamps and locations all over the web, and uploading them to centralized databases that ANYBODY can see. Suddenly NOBODY has privacy. You could pull up a photo of every person who ever walked into CIA headquarters, or find the home address of every judge in the country. When somebody commits a crime the press and the victim's family

      • http://www.davidbrin.com/transparent.htm [davidbrin.com]

        Which suggests much the same as you did.

        And also see "The light of other days" by others as a sci-fi story with a related theme of cultural transformation:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Light_of_Other_Days [wikipedia.org]

        In general, it's ironic we will put all these computer resources into surveilling people who we fear are up to no good (like stealing property or escaping from society via drugs) instead of just building robots (and other infrastructure) to make what people want al

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          I think the transformation you suggest will eventually happen - eventually we'll have unemployment of 90% and there will be little choice. However, there are many things in the world that are still scarce, and everything is finite - even the number of electrons in the universe. The army of robots serving society only works if the size of society is limited by resources. Otherwise, if everybody can just sit around doing what they want, then they'll probably end up wanting to have a fair number of kids.

          I t

          • "Otherwise, if everybody can just sit around doing what they want, then they'll probably end up wanting to have a fair number of kids."

            And with a seemingly empty and devoid-of-life solar system and galaxy around us, this is wrong because?

            Ignoring how in practice industrial countries birth rates are falling below replacement...

            You may well be right about current technical limits. But they can change with some research investment.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      But how different is that from their Northern Hemisphere cousins the Americans?

      We States dwellers fought a damned revolution in the name of minimal, just government, liberty, and independence. Almost 250 years later we are habitually putting more power in the hands of the Federal government, mandating or outlawing just about everything (at least if you live in California), turning the other cheek when the NSA wiretaps our phone companies, and naming legislation that suspends Habeus Corpus the God damned
    • by Ocker3 (1232550)
      Internet filtering has effectively been killed, it's been delayed and delayed and delayed. No way it's going to be implemented in the current minority government environment. As to outlawing Cattle Dogs, they're Not the equivalent of the pit bull, in shape, feature, purpose or Training.
    • by brunes69 (86786)

      Contrary to popular American belief, respect and right to privacy and the private bearing of arms have little to nothing to do with each other.

  • There are very specific laws and regulations dealing with where you can and can't fly hobby remote control aircraft, and not just in Australia. A small lightweight aircraft can be deadly. Even a small weight moving quickly can be very dangerous. (Heck a small treebranch fell on me at the local zoo on a windy day about a week ago and the damn thing felt like I'd been clubbed unexpectedly with a baseball bat. Presumably it fell from a good height). Add a propeller and now you have a nice mix master missle com

  • I returned to Canberra 8 months ago after 6 years overseas, living in both Germany and the US (well, California!). Some things we are very glad to be back to and some leave me with a slack jaw. This is one of them. Here is the comment I --usually politically apathetic, like most Australians -- posted to the article linked to in the summary.

    Irrespective of whether we can trust the AFP, the installation of point-to-point speed cameras which have "relatively low infringement rates" seems like a gross over-reaction to a non-existent problem. The data --crazy I know to look at it when considering emotionally driven issues -- does not bear out the expense http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/D18CA4EA930FF0D2CA25773700169CE5?opendocument [abs.gov.au]

    Suggesting that reducing tolerances to increase infringements (in this case, I see no other reason than for revenue) to pay for a system that is not needed is abusive. Will it reduce deaths?

    The short of the data is that the ACT has about half the traffic accident-related fatalities of the western world, including those countries noted for above-average drivi

    • by thogard (43403)

      You won't get zero deaths on a road because it is a common yet underreported method for suicide.

      A traffic group in South Australia published a paper that said you double the accident rate for every 5 km increase in speed and that became the basis for traffic safety programs in Victoria and NSW. That report didn't take into account traffic density but since they are in a sleepy town of Adelaide, maybe it was beyond their comprehension that as you slow down traffic, you increase its density in odd ways that

    • I returned to Canberra 8 months ago after 6 years overseas, living in both Germany and the US (well, California!). Some things we are very glad to be back to and some leave me with a slack jaw.

      Maybe you're just slack-jawed full stop. The referenced article is badly written - but it's still nothing to do with using UAVs to give out speeding fines. It's because the police aren't allowed to pursue people speeding in traffic - and it's too expensive to put up helicopters after them. The actual incident that triggered the request for UAVs was the death in Fyshwick earlier this year - where a serial car thief who delighted in baiting police (because the courts kept letting him off) hit and killed some

      • by xav_jones (612754)
        Thanks for the back story since the article obviously didn't mention any of that. Using speed camera pictures in court seems like a perfectly reasonable idea but was never mentioned -- so that's extra information you bring to the table. Thanks for calling me a moron even though you didn't address a single point I raised. Again, Canberran roads are the safest in the world and measures that have been discussed, as mentioned in the article, are an over-reaction to a non-existent problem.
        • Thanks for the back story since the article obviously didn't mention any of that.

          Because (shock horror) the story is complete bullshit.

          Using speed camera pictures in court seems like a perfectly reasonable idea but was never mentioned

          It's vaguely alluded to "A spokeswoman for Attorney-General Simon Corbell said the Bill before the Assembly only permitted the devices to be used for transport law enforcement, or for a purpose allowed under another law. "

          Thanks for calling me a moron

          Don't mention it

          even though you didn't address a single point I raised.

          Because they're not relevant to the actual story - which is what I said it is - not the "oh nose it's another revenue raising scam" beatup press release by the Opposition "a senior police officer said the cameras could

      • by xav_jones (612754)

        The actual incident that triggered the request for UAVs was the death in Fyshwick earlier this year - where a serial car thief who delighted in baiting police (because the courts kept letting him off) hit and killed some of his friends after calling them to help escape the police pursuit.

        Really? Because the article is a report on minutes from a meeting held in June 2010.

        • The actual incident that triggered the request for UAVs was the death in Fyshwick earlier this year - where a serial car thief who delighted in baiting police (because the courts kept letting him off) hit and killed some of his friends after calling them to help escape the police pursuit.

          Really? Because the article is a report on minutes from a meeting held in June 2010.

          The referenced article is dated 22 Sep, 2011.

          Where is this meeting minutes you refer to and what bearing does that have on your bullshit claim this story about seeking to change the law so that speed camera pictures can be used to prosecute people for criminal offences has something to do with your little rant about point to point cameras Mr Troll?

  • I knew this was coming, as I thought how easy it would be to do, 5 years ago when the drones were coming out for the police force and being used to track perps.
    I knew it would not be long before someone got the idea to use it to track speeders and then be able to send them a nice ticket in the mail for the infraction.
    The only problem is that how does the drone write up the report , it doesn't as the guy flying the drone does...the problem is that you need an actual person to hand over a ticket if points are

  • Pew pew pew... take that, drone-boy.

    Makes you wonder if you could hit the ISS with an S3 Krypton.

  • Judging by all of the new and expensive high-tech toys police departments are buying you'd hardly know that the rest of the country is broke.

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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