Germany tests anti-graffiti drones

German railway operator Deutche Bahn is to target graffiti artists with surveillance drones: "The idea is to use airborne infra-red cameras to collect evidence, which could then be used to prosecute vandals who deface property at night."


  1. “The idea is to use airborne infra-red cameras to collect evidence, which could then be used to prosecute vandals who deface property at night.” Or take them out with a Hellfire II missile. This is GERMANY, after all.

  2. What if the graffiti artists start mounting their spray cans on quadrocopters and doing their deeds by remote control? 

    1. мy вeѕт ғrιeɴd’ѕ ѕтep-ѕιѕтer мαĸeѕ $62 αɴ нoυr oɴ тнe coмpυтer. ѕнe нαѕ вeeɴ υɴeмployed ғor 7 мoɴтнѕ вυт lαѕт мoɴтн нer pαy wαѕ $21З52 jυѕт worĸιɴɢ oɴ тнe coмpυтer ғor α ғew нoυrѕ. reαd мore oɴ тнιѕ ѕιтe

  3. I totally read that as anti-gravity drones, and was immediately conflicted about the news.

  4. I’d much rather learn to live with grafitti and come to appreciate it as art than learn to live with the omnipresence of drones in everyday society.

    And could we not invest our resources in making materials such that grafitti is simply not a problem, rather than answering one problem by creating another.  (If only we had an Internet meme for that…)

    1. Yes, but the people who sell the drones disagree with you, and feel that your every waking moment must be monitored.

  5. Typical DeutSche Bahn nonsense. Instead of improving service, punctuality or modernizing trains they spend their money for useless orwellian crap like this. As if those spraying teens could cough up the money to compensate for the damages when convicted…

    1. While it is a bad solution, it addresses a real problem.  As a customer, I want to to ride a clean train.   

      About the spraying teens: You do realize that the debt doesn’t somehow vanish after a criminal conviction? It stays until it gets paid off.

        1. I don’t see any laws preventing sprayers buying or renting a wall.

          Also, most graffiti *sucks* and most of the good graffiti is covered by bad graffiti.  It’s kind of like fan fiction, though that one at least doesn’t overwrite the original stuff.

          1. You’ve skipped over the part of the argument where the “good stuff” has to be painted on someone else’s property.

          1. It’s not like someone can’t BUY their own tastemaking magazine and make graffiti uncool.

  6. I guess drones are trendy now;  for the costs involved it seems that regular human patrols would work  just as if not better than the drones.

    1. Really? They say it’s 60.000 € a pop. That would barely cover *one* person for a year.  If at all. That person would have a 38-40 hour week and about 28 to 30 days of paid holidays.  He or she would also have to be able to run 40 mph, take photos in the dark and navigate a hazardous, if not outright deadly, terrain. 

      1. Ha! We in Germany are social people! Social is whatever brings work! Even if is is for 3,80€/h as for security personal in the nighttime.
        The low wages here are the reason for the “competitiveness” of the “european chinese” (Sorry China). We are so cheap that we can make half the european states go bankcrupt and THATS GOOD! says our neoliberal Angela Merkel.  Because, you know, having the biggest import/export difference in the world gives us LOTS of money.
        Until nobody is able to buy our goods because of dept they have o us, but thinking on that would be future-oriented thinking. For longer then 4 years election period I mean.
        Oh… Merkel is longer then 4 years… and we HAVE dept problems. Thats why we are paying billions of € to other countries so that they can pay back their dept to us. While we sell hundrets of tanks to  greece, which is a country very well suited for tank battles with all that mountains – as the 195 battles in the last 20 years have shown.

      2. Most graffiti bombing is going to happen at major trainyards and depots, so not sure about dangerous terrain, unless the tracks themselves are meant.  A few guards dedicated just to this purpose could easily cover it, especially since they can think strategically and cover choke points etc.  They would obviously have to buy more than just one drone, so they could hire more than one night guard.  As for the 60,000 euros, that is a good salary, unless Germany is far more expensive to live in than I imagine, which is possible. Last I checked, humans can take photos in the dark. 

  7. “Will we next create false gods to rule over us? How proud we have become, and how blind.”

    – Sister Miriam Godwinson, “We must Dissent”

  8. Okay, send around drones with infrared cameras and tape what… the entire city?  And then send day-time drones to take pictures of the city and correlate graffiti with locations of people?  So they are building the “machine” from Person of Interest, right?

    I don’t know, maybe spray paint shows up really well on IR cameras.  Does it come out hot?

    1. It’s the Deutsche Bahn, i.e. German Railway. They are not canvassing the whole city, just the bridges over railroads and the parked trains. Those are pretty popular with graffitis guys.

      1. Graffiti on already ugly train cars is less obnoxious than graffiti on buildings where cleaning it causes wear and removes the patina from masonry, but they do have a right to protect their property, much as I have a right to place a trail camera in my garden to detect tomato thieves.

  9. But what about the right to have a sporting chance of committing a crime and getting away with it?

    1. That’s a really interesting and provocative statement.  On the one hand, it sounds like snark; on the other hand, it sounds like an other-than-totalitarian society, when we allow some people to get away with it so the rest of can go through life without the feeling of being in harness.

      1. That would mean… a state where we accept that not all crime is solved in an exchange that people who have done nothing aren’t death-sentenced?
        My, what a  funny idea!
        We all know the only right way to do justice is to kill people for a crime! Guilty until proven unguilty!! If the people senteced are the ones that have done the crime, thats a bonus, but not necessity.

    2.  Hmm, so… you are proposing letting the people get away with petty crime in order to justify harsher -but under the light of these and that freedoms- measures of control and oppresion?

  10. Memory has a way of being selective.  When I think of graffiti, I can recall some memorable pieces that I thought were well worth preserving.  For example, I saw this train car (below) a few years ago, or one very much like it.  Beautifully done.  But on the other hand, most of the graffiti I see on US train cars is 1) gang tagging, 2) stupidly sexual, or 3) stupidly racist.  I’ll let the internet philosophers debate whether it’s worth sifting through so much poop for a few gems.  
    I have also seen wonderful architecture despoiled by thoughtlessly applied paint.  I wonder if some of the people defending graffiti tend to approve of it in inverse proportion to how close it is to their neighborhoods, homes and personal property?

    1. Sifting through bad stuff for good stuff is the only way that any good stuff has ever been produced.

  11. Don’t people show up on infrared cameras as indistinct orange-to-red-to-blue blobs? How exactly do they plan to identify one blob from another? 

  12. Im a graffiti writer.
    I can tell u all graffiti scared ppl.
    Dont feel safe.
    They cant watch everything plus there are hundreds of places to spray trains where they dont have drones.
    Obviously they can use them just at big depots.
    But there are hundreds of places where just one train is parked or two.
    This is pure nonsens wait till me and my homies construct a anti drone potatoe gun.
    Gimme just one month and i develop ya drone asses a potatoe gun which blows your fucking 60.000€ drone into pieces

  13. There’s obviously some great graffiti out there, but a lot of the tagging that this is designed to combat is not art by any stretch of the imagination. It’s fundamentally undemocratic in that it doesn’t respect the voice of anyone who would rather not have your ‘art’ on their buildings, trains etc. Especially when this is on private land or when the people opposing graffiti are the ones using the trains or paying for the cleanup, their right to a clean train outweighs your right to public self expression. Not cleaning it up is often not an option and it can harm the environment and damage or devalue property, as well as making an area look run down.

    By all means deal with the underlying causes, but don’t act like doing this without permission on private property is legitimate, or that DB has no right (or even duty, seeing as it’s publicly funded) to protect its property. In any case, this is a long way from the Orwellian society – these drones would only be used inside large depots and would not invade people’s privacy. Presumably static cameras would have too many blind spots in this kind of environment, or they would be too far from the subject to get a clear picture.

  14. Graffiti cant be stopped.
    And iF we dont take them down we go for the place where they park that crap and destroy it on the ground.
    What do yall think what happens with cameras or infrared sensors at subway depots.
    They get destroyed and destroyed and destroyed till the rebuild/repair gets too xpensive.
    Thats the weak spot of modern surveillance.

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