Is this what we will get?

State-owned broadcast signal distribution company Sentech is in the market for autonomous drones to patrol South Africa’s borders.

Sentech envisages a fleet of drones in a meshed network that co-ordinate with towers on the ground to spot illegal activity and alert operators.

Ideally its drones will be capable of other applications, but not weapons platforms.

It would like drones fitted with loudspeakers that are capable of shouting at intruders.

State-owned company Sentech, which distributes broadcast signals for radio and television, is in the market for sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to patrol South Africa’s borders.

Ultimately, Sentech hopes to create fleet of drones that can take off by themselves, figure out the details of their own flight path, communicate with one another and sensor towers on the ground, and alert human operators to anomalies such as attempted illegal crossing or other incursions.

Or maybe something like this?

The drones must be able to issue warnings automatically, along the lines of “move away from the boundary, you are entering a restricted area”.

Control room operators would have access to live, high-definition video of what is going on, augmented with data from sensors using everything from lasers to radar to create a detailed view of any event.

Sensors will also be on fixed towers between 15 metres and 45 metres high.

“The system should assist with identifying threats faster and allow operating personnel to instantly spot potential threats with confidence,” says Sentech.

This is what we actually want.

Sentech says its drones will have a range of capabilities but none of its detailed specifications will be a weapons platform.

Duties will security, human trafficking, illegal border crossing, anti-terrorism, smuggling goods and any other crimes against the state.


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