Battlefields will no longer be the only fields drones will be seen in.The unmanned, remote-controlled aircraft could soon be seen over the farms of Europe, in an attempt to curb cheating on farm subsidies, RT reports.
Each year, the EU spends almost half of its budget on its Common Agricultural Policy, and Europe’s farms cost taxpayers billions of euros in subsidies.
And where there’s the prospect of subsidy, there’s fraud. As cheaters gets more innovative, inspectors need to keep up. So they are turning to technology to improve their patchy record on catching fraud.
While satellites have been used in the past to keep an eye on subsidy claimants. Satellites provide aerial images of farmlands, which could be checked for breaches of rules (if the farms were not in proper environmental and agricultural condition). It was also much cheaper than sending an inspector to the field, according to the BBC.
But these images had their limitations: they were inconclusive in unfavorable weather conditions and mountainous terrain.
EU inspectors then tried unmanned aerial vehicles. Drones can get up close and take sharp photographs, and unlike satellites, which always look directly down, drones can get an angled view.
They are currently being tried out in France, Italy, and Spain. But the EU will have to develop new protocol to relax the strict restrictions on civilian drones in order to implement the strategy on a larger scale.
Right now, civilian drones must remain in line of sight of the operator at no more than about 550 yards distance, according to Popular Science.
However, not everyone is excited about the new proposal. The campaign group Statenwatch says rushing into the use of drones without enough public discussion could lead to invasion of privacy issues.
“…The questions about what is acceptable and how people feel about drones hovering over their farmland or their demonstration – these debates are not taking place,” Ben Hayes of Statenwatch told the BBC.
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