back to article Liverpool police get mini-Black Helicopter

The era of Robocop - and perhaps of the surveillance society - came a step nearer today with the announcement that Merseyside plods have started trialling a flying police robot. The scally sky-patrolman, unlike military kill-bots such as the US Reaper, isn't intended for any active role. It is purely an observation platform, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Might be safe in the air...

    ...but it will have to land eventually. And being Liverpool, it'll get nicked. Wonder what the equivalent of a car up on bricks is for a helicopter ? No rotors ?

    Yours Stereotypically, Boris J

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It'll last five minutes...

    ...before some YouTube-hungry ASBO bait uses their natural MacGyyver abiliities to down the droid using nothing more than a slingshot salvaged from industrial strength knicker elastic and the net left over from a bag of oranges (or knowing the youth of today, a high powered semi-automatic rifle).

    In a couple of months time Merseyside police will be down by an expensive radio controlled toy and one scally will have enough street cred to keep him going right through into middle age.

    I await the inevitable TWANG! 'Oh bugger' news release with relish.

  3. Horridbloke

    Aahh, Dr Freeman...

    This is just a little too Half Life 2 for my liking. Never mind, a well-placed round from the shot gun will do for them.

  4. Simon

    How many points?

    How many points does one score for shooting one of these out of the sky?

  5. regadpellagru

    nice toy

    "According to the Guardian, the spy drone will also "track criminals and record anti-social behaviour"."

    Well, nice toy for a kid. Not sure it will eradicate crime, however, since:

    - 20 min of battery (including 10 for to go on zone, and return) is pretty short. Except if the whole police forces are converted to (black) helicopters pilots. Yeah, sure it can land in case of short battery. LOL. Guess what the baddies will do of it when they discover one miserably off battery on the ground ?

    - the zoom function doesn't seem to be here. Means we saw, on the demo, a whole lot of people, but no way to see if there were any cute girls :-)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The warmest place to hide

    It will be ready for "immediate deployment from car/dog van/other"? What kind of inhuman Terminator-like device is this, that it can be inserted inside a dog? Does it masquerade as living tissue, a la The Thing?

    Yes, I know. It's supposed to be "dog van". But how can we be sure?

  7. Gilbert Wham

    wasting ammo?

    @ Horridbloke: Word. The whole COUNTRY is looking more like half-life every day.

  8. Register Reader


    Get one of these and attach a webcam and you have the same thing (probably even longer battery life, though I don't know how it fares outside in the wind). Attach some kind of high velocity missile/BB gun attachment, and you can go hunting for police choppers :D How long before all crime and anti-crime is done by remote control toys? I look forward to the next era of combined Cops/Robot Wars on TV!! :P

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what happens when one of these auto-lands on a busy road having lost its control signal

    and takes out a motorcyclist just before hitting the ground?

    or drops onto a toddler in a nursery play area?

    Would that be corporate manslaughter by the Chief Constable, the non-pilot or the programmers of the system?

  10. Steve

    20 mins flight time...

    .. but how long will it take to recharge between flights ?

    Given the flight time from the launch site and back (I'm guessing that the operators won't be to close to the action, kind of spoils the 'covert' part), < 20 mins is not very much coverage from what is presumably a very expensive toy.

    So I'd guess we can cross 'crowd control' off the list of things it's realistically useful for, how many crowds that need controlling last for less than twenty minutes ?

    Firearms incidents, well, only if they're taking place outside, or in single storey buildings with very thin roofs.

    Anti social behaviour ? By the time you've got the operator and his van to the area, launched the drone, reviewed the footage... well, surely it would be quicker just to send a couple of plods to have a look using their standard issue mark 1 eyeball.

    So, erm, what the hell use is this thing, exactly ? Does it have some kind of inbuilt mechanism for detecting cardboard cut-outs of lara croft, perhaps ?

    I'm glad that's not *my* council tax being squandered.

  11. Woody


    That would be the most amazing episode of crimewatch ever!

    The cctv footage showing 2 or three mini airwolves shooting missiles at the police chopper until it loses control and lunges into a crowd of shoppers (no injuries of course ;)

    and the closing, police are looking for remote control enthusiasts with access to toy weapons hahahahahhahaha

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A little behind the times?

    "The era of Robocop - and perhaps of the surveillance society - came a step nearer today"

    A step nearer? Look around - we're already living in the era of the surveillance society.

    A mini helecopter with a camera is only a tiny little step in the stampede toward the UK's total surveillance society.

    Of course, once you have a "total surveilance society" it won't take much for someone to sandwich "itarian" into that phrase.

  13. Steve Graham

    Tuning In

    According to the company's website the video transmitter its "2.4Ghz, analog" -- or the same as your room-to-room videosender. Everyone in the neighbourhood will be able to watch!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Does that mean it stores the image and uploads it when it gets home? Or is this "CCTV" as in "not even remotely closed circuit TV".

  15. Steve Evans

    Oh dear...

    From what I saw of this on the TV, it looks like they use pretty standard remote control gear... In which case it won't take much to knock it out with the analogue equivalent of a DOS attack aka RF generator. Although mistaking it for a clay pigeon appeals to me more.

    That's assuming it doesn't just get blown away by the wind... Oh well at least that means the hoodys can only play up for 350 days of the year.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Watch the watcher

    You could always build your own, although not sure of this ones military ancestry

  17. Remy Redert


    If it's half as fragile as the remote control helicopters I've seen around, you don't need a gun, missiles or even a hard object to take it down. Just hit it with a nerf gun, it'll go down immediatly.

  18. Rob


    Glad all the money I pay in tax / speeding fines is going on something useful instead of coppers walking the beat.

  19. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

    Oh, be fair!

    The thing looks very useful for crowd control, by operating as an instant observation tower.

    Plus it offers 2.4GHz video transmitters, so a CONOPS could be: Van shows up near site; At time "T" drone "A" launches, and gets on station at (say) time T+4. At time T+10 drone "B" launches, reaches station at T+14; at T+15 observer switches to drone "B", and drone "A" returns to launch site (arriving at T+19), has its battery replaced, and repeats, arriving back on station at T+24, just in time for drone "B" to leave at T+25. The van needs two operator stations, one observer station, and a large battery charging bench!

    The thing is small and quiet, so most people won't notice it, which rather limits the fear of it being shot down.

    And for events such as protest marches, the idea of being able to observe (and photograph) the participants without being confrontational seems a rather good idea.

  20. Alex

    ...the next thing

    we'll have the dustbins watching us...

    ...oh hang on!

  21. Quinn

    RE: regadpellagru

    " the zoom function doesn't seem to be here. Means we saw, on the demo, a whole lot of people, but no way to see if there were any cute girls :-)"

    It will be in Merseyside. There won't be any.

  22. David

    1980's New Zealand TV

    This was done by a kid on a TV series that screened in New Zealand in the early -mid 80's. I believe the name of the show was "Hot Shots" or something like that, but involved some kids, one of who had a mother who was involved (not by choice) with counterfitters. One of the kids was a electronics and model chopper enthusiast and attached a video camera to his bog-standard RC chopped, and used it to follow the bad guys around at some point.

    Surprising that it has taken so long for it to be something fairly mainstream in use, and even then only by the US military.

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