Drones patrol Gauteng skies

2014-04-01 09:15
(Nati Harnik, AP)

(Nati Harnik, AP)

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Cape Town - Gauteng residents may notice something strange in the skies over the next few days. They're not UFOs or foreign intelligence operations being conducted: They are, in fact, traffic drones.

Kagiso New Media and Jacaranda FM have begun a pilot project to investigate the viability of using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to provide traffic updates to people in Gauteng.

The drones will monitor the N1 and provide updates on traffic conditions during peak hours.

In addition to the updates being broadcast on Jacaranda FM, the public can log in to the website to follow the traffic news.

The pilot programme will run for 15 days from 07:00 to 08:00 and 16:00 to 17:00 daily and the company says that the drones have met all compliance requirements set by the Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Association of Southern Africa.

Conflict operations

The programme has a larger goal than traffic reporting.

"Pending the results of this proof of concept, we look forward to operating a fleet of UAVs that will bring our web and radio audience up-to-the-minute news and information," said Attila Bernariusz, Kagiso New Media general manger of Operations.

The issue of drones hit the news media on the first day of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial when an unmanned vehicle was spotted flying above the court.

The vehicles have been associated mostly with theatres of conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan where the US makes widespread use of attack drones to target militants.

However, Pakistan claims that since 2008, 67 civilians and 2 160 combatants were killed by US drones.

But the technology is nevertheless expanding.

Online retailer Amazon plans to use drones for deliveries and the United Arab Emirates also wants to use the technology for the delivery government services, though both projects are still subject to both legal and technical hurdles.

Jacaranda FM sees the drones as giving the station a competitive edge.

"In a metropolitan area with so many traffic issues, this offering will save our audience a lot time and hassle. We see it as a potential revolution not only in traffic reporting, but also in news reporting," said Jacaranda FM general manager Kevin Fine.


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