Artificial intelligence for border surveillance: Greece tests autonomous drone swarms

Despite repeatedly documented human rights abuses, the EU is funding new technology to monitor its external border with Turkey.

No European state is as suspected as Greece of violating human rights and international law in its control of the EU’s external borders. Greek border troops use force to drag refugees back into the strait with Turkey without granting them the right to apply for asylum. At sea, as well as on the border river Evros, people in emergency situations are left to fend for themselves or even pushed into the water.

Now the Greek authorities are researching new methods to detect border crossings from the air. This will involve the use of drones that will take over tasks for border surveillance and law enforcement with the help of „real-time artificial intelligence“. The project is called REACTION and researches technologies for land border surveillance. Details of the project were presented by the Greek Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis, at a trade fair in Thessaloniki earlier this month. „Artificial intelligence for border surveillance: Greece tests autonomous drone swarms“ weiterlesen

Vertical take-off: German military buys modernised reconnaissance drones

After more than a decade, the Bundeswehr is replacing its 145 quadrocopters with a revised model. It comes from the same company, is foldable and can mark targets. The overall system in the backpack weighs 15 kilograms.

The Armed Forces‘ branches can look forward to145 new quadrocopters for „imaging reconnaissance.“ The order was placed via the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw), which is now providing information about it. The contract was awarded back in May.

The new drones will be handed over in Summer 2023, with delivery to be completed by 2024. Operator training should also be completed by then. „Vertical take-off: German military buys modernised reconnaissance drones“ weiterlesen

Assistance over Ukraine war: Border police in Moldova receive German drones

The delivery to the government in Chişinău is being financed by Germany. The project is headed by an ousted Berlin police chief.

The German government is equipping Moldova with drones for border security. For this purpose, the border police will initially receive five unmanned aerial vehicles from the company Germandrones starting in the summer. Training of border guards to control and operate the sensor technology has already begun with a training drone, the manufacturer reported in a press release.

According to Germandrones, former Berlin Federal Police chief and later Berlin police president Klaus Kandt is acting as project coordinator. Kandt had to vacate his post in the capital in 2018 due to criticism of his leadership style and several scandals. „Assistance over Ukraine war: Border police in Moldova receive German drones“ weiterlesen

Ukraine war: The age of loitering warheads is dawning

Initially, the Ukrainian military dominated the drone war against the Russian attackers, who are now striking back unmanned. Both sides are relying on a new drone weapon.

With the attack on Ukraine, the country has become the scene of a new drone war after Nagorno-Karabakh. Unmanned aerial vehicles of various sizes and capabilities are being deployed. Videos of unmanned armed combat are meant to boost the troops‘ and the population’s morale. Initially, Ukraine had the advantage, but now Russia is catching up.

In the current war, manufacturers from Turkey, the USA and Russia will benefit from the military success of their drones. Presumably, a market for smuggling baguette-sized armed drones will soon develop. The current battlefield also proves that drones from the electronics market are playing an increasingly important role in military conflicts. „Ukraine war: The age of loitering warheads is dawning“ weiterlesen

First test in Malta: Frontex drones approaching

A reconnaissance drone is to track down boats carrying refugees in the central Mediterranean Sea in the future, the main contractor is the Airbus Group. The range of the deployed „Heron 1“ also enables flights off the coasts of North Africa.

Frontex is apparently stationing its new drones in Malta. As the Times of Malta reports, the EU border agency carried out a first test flight there on Friday. The newspaper illustrates the report with photos of a „Heron 1“ on the runway of the international airport in Malta.

Frontex had tendered a contract for the procurement of large drones in 2019. The legal framework was the Frontex Regulation, renewed in 2016, which allows the agency to acquire or lease its own technical equipment, following a decision by the executive director. The vehicles, vessels, aircraft or surveillance equipment can then be used for joint operations, pilot projects or rapid interventions for border security purposes, according to Article 38. „First test in Malta: Frontex drones approaching“ weiterlesen

EU has spent over €300 million on surveillance with drones in four years

Unmanned systems have been flying regularly for the European Union’s agencies since 2017. Now, member states are also receiving funding for drones at their external borders. Soon, remote-controlled patrol boats could be deployed.

The EU Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has published a new call for unmanned surveillance of European maritime areas. A company is being sought via the European tendering platform „Ted“ to carry out an initial 2,300 flight hours with larger drones for €20 million. They are to operate in a radius of at least 500 kilometres and remain in the air for more than ten hours. According to the plans, the drones will operate without a runway. This should make it possible to decide quickly and flexibly on their deployment to an operational area.

With the new order, the EU Commission has spent at least €308 million on the use of drones since 2017. That does not include research and development of drone services. A study presented in 2014 by the British non-governmental organisation Statewatch, for example, put this at around €500 million. „EU has spent over €300 million on surveillance with drones in four years“ weiterlesen

Police in Germany launch large-scale drone project

North Rhine-Westphalia will equip the police with a total of 106 quadrocopters from 2021. They will also be used for the „pursuit of offenders“.

In Germany, more and more police authorities use quadrocopters, mainly to monitor the scene of violent crimes or after traffic accidents. The surveillance of political assemblies does occur, but these missions are still rare. Saxony first acquired small drones over ten years ago and flew them at football matches and demonstrations. In Lower Saxony, a quadrocopter once flew during a nuclear waste transport. In Freiburg, a special operations team recently brought quadrocopters to a house eviction.

Other missions took place this year during the first lockdown in spring. Police in Hesse and Bavaria launched quadrocopters to patrol Corona restrictions in parks, and they are also said to have been used on the island of Rügen. However, it is not known whether any footage was collected and processed in these operations. In North Rhine-Westphalia, drones with loudspeakers flew over green spaces to instruct the public. „Police in Germany launch large-scale drone project“ weiterlesen

Big business with throw-away military drones

The defence company Airbus is expected to have produced 2,000 target drones soon, at a unit price in the six-digit range. The Bundeswehr uses them for air defence training. Further missions are testing swarms of drones.

To train air defence forces, the military simulates another aerial vehicle or an approaching missile with so-called target drones. The unmanned aircraft is then not always shot down, sometimes only the detection and tracking of the target is tested.

The Bundeswehr has been using target drones since the 1980s at the latest. Initially, the troops flew a petrol-powered model aircraft, for example the KZD-2 („Kleinziel-Drohne 2“). „Big business with throw-away military drones“ weiterlesen