Germany’s Deutsche Bahn to use drones to help stamp out graffiti

29 May 2013

Image via Gary Paul Lewis/Shutterstock

Graffiti on Deutsche Bahn trains is costing the German national railway about €7.6m per year, and so the company is going to enlist the help of drones to keep watch over its carriages.

Deutsche Bahn is preparing to test the flying drones at rail depots soon, BBC News reports. Equipped with helicopter-style rotors and high-resolution infrared cameras, it is hoped that the drones will catch graffiti vandals in action and provide evidence for prosecution.

According to Spiegel Online, the drones – which are said to cost about €60,000 each – will be able to travel up to 54km/h at a height of about 150m, and can run on autopilot for as long as 40km. They can last for more than 80 minutes at a time and will be used to keep watch over depots in problem areas where graffiti is most common.

Because of Germany’s strict privacy laws, Deutsche Bahn has assured that the drones will not capture images beyond its own property.

Many Germans are very keen to protect their privacy in public spaces, something that was made clear in 2010 when Google Street View decided to give German homeowners the option to have their buildings blurred on its maps, and more than 200,000 took that opportunity.

Railroad graffiti image via Gary Paul Lewis/Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.