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Traffic cops assess robot spy plane

Right: Houston traffic police are considering the use of unmanned drones for traffic monitoring

Unmanned drone aircraft equipped with cameras have been demonstrated to traffic police from Houston in Texas. The exhibition was run by Insitu, which works with Boeing to develop surveillance craft for the US Navy, Marines and the Australian Army.

Insitu demonstrated one of its autonomous ScanEagle craft to Houston’s Radar Task Force, which is responsible for issuing penalty tickets to drivers who commit traffic offences. ScanEagle has a 3m wingspan and was demonstrated flying at an altitude of 450m.

It had been intended that the demonstration in Waller County – a rural area 70 miles from Houston – should remain private, but nearby residents became curious about the black control trucks and large police presence and tipped off local media as a consequence.

Afterwards, the police department felt obliged to call a press conference, at which executive assistant police chief Marth Montalvo admitted that the drone was under consideration for monitoring traffic.

The ScanEagle unmanned surveillance aircraft can stay aloft for more than 20 hours

November 26, 2007

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