Graffiti, to some, is seen as an artistic expression. But for businesses it can become a weekly, or even daily, nuisance that can become costly. That is the case for Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s national railway, and after recent projections show their graffiti cleanup costs reaching 7.6 million euros ($10 million), the company has decided to deploy a fleet of drones to combat the problem.
Deutsche Bahn plans to conduct a test rollout with small surveillance drones overnight at some of their stations that see grafitti cropping up the most. Instead of being equipped with weapons like those used by the military, the drones used by the Duetsche Bahn are small quad copters, made by the German company Microdrones, that house an inferred video camera. The md4-1000 model being used is able to fly to heights of up to 500 feat for 88 minutes in near silence, and costs roughly 60,000 euros ($77,250).
Exact details on when and where the drones will operate is being kept quiet for obvious reasons. Deutsche Bahn intends to use the drones in conjunction with their normal security teams so that when the cameras pick up the vandalism in progress, quick action can take place to stop it.
Drones have been a topic of debate over the last several months in Germany, and some are questioning the legal aspect of this rollout. In Germany, as in much of Europe, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) must remain in the line of sight of its operator. Deutsche Bahn has commented that their drones would remain inside the boundaries of company property and will not capture footage of activity outside of those areas.