Ten highly capable drones which can fly at a height of 6,000 metres and carry 500-gram weight with an advanced satellite navigation system have been seized from a passenger at Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru, triggering new threat of espionage from the sky but raising similar questions faced by authorities when they relented in 1990 to allow mobile phones in India.
Besides live-streaming hi-definition images and videos to the ground at 2-km range range, the Chinese-made DJI Phantom-4 PRO drones can provide city-based recce and act as surveillance missions. The drone’s “Tap-by-Use” feature, allows users to tap on a particular individual in a crowd and lock him for continuous tracking of his movements.
The DJI Phantom-4 PRO drones are believed to be above average drones which are available in India as they can pose a serious security threat, and authorities are probing if they have been smuggled into India in the past. They suspect the drones might be used by terrorists to coordinate their attacks.
Fitted with an intelligent system, the drones can act on their own after finding obstacles and an advanced satellite navigation system compatible with GPS and the Russian GLobal NAvigation Satellite System (GLONASS).
Since the end-user of the drones seized is yet to be ascertained, authorities are wary about the use of such drones and the potential of their threat perception on VIP movements and Air Force installations in Bengaluru. Moreover, they “won’t even be visible unless we look for it specifically,” K Ramachandra of the National Mission for Micro Air Vehicles (MAV) told TOI.
The question is whether to stop and seize such drones, which could have been smuggled or brought in without prior knowledge about their use or misuse. Or to allow them within permissible limits? As mobiles or smartphones are capable of any of the features based on the ground, what these drones can do is to keep an eye from the sky without the knowledge of the person they are tracking or the sensitive locations in India.
The use of drone is known across several industries and Baaqhubali director SS Rajamouli has made use of them while filming his magnum opus. Since the use for better purpose cannot be ruled out, it is going to be a gigantic task for authorities now to study and decide on restraining the use or permitting their use within the watchful eyes of the security agencies.