Imagine that a few car thieves have taken refuge in a warehouse, where the stolen cars are to be handed over to accomplices. German investigators are observing the group, but they risk missing the decisive moment. They can hear what’s happening in the hall through a tilted window, but they can’t see anything. Until they fly through the window gap with a barely audible nano drone that captures everything on camera for them.
What sounds like a scene from a crime scene “crime scene” could long since be reality. Because an EU-wide police project, in which the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is also involved, has apparently bought two very small drones equipped with two cameras for investigations against organized gangs of burglars. This emerges from a non-public response from the federal government to a small request from the left-wing faction, which the Süddeutsche Zeitung present. The nano drones are called “Black Hornet” (German: Black Hornet) and are about 17 centimeters long. The rotor has a diameter of about 12 centimeters. The aircraft are manufactured by the US company Flir, which advertises the nano drones primarily for military use. The Bundeswehr also has models of the nano drone.
The drones were procured for the EU project “Spectre”, which is managed by the French national police, the BKA and a special office of the Lithuanian criminal police. The aim of the project is to catch cross-border gangs, especially in the areas of theft, money laundering and corruption. According to the EU, a total of 450 suspects were arrested and 12 million euros confiscated as part of the project by December 2019.
In total, technology was purchased for the Specter project for 200,000 euros. In addition to the nano-drones, 40 GPS tracking devices have also been ordered, which can be used to track the location of suspects in real time. According to the federal government’s list, devices were also procured with which investigators can determine whether criminals are using frequency jammers, so-called jammers. Criminals on the run can use Yammer to block radio and cell phone signals in their area, for example if they fear that their cell phones are being tracked by the police or that beacons are installed in stolen cars. Correction Note: Due to a conversion error, an earlier version of the article said it was only two centimeters long. In fact, the drone is around 17 centimeters long. Please excuse the mistake.