Airborne Drones To Attack Bay View’s Car Vandalism Epidemic

April 1, 2018

By Druscilla Vandall

In light of the recent rash of vehicle vandalism plaguing Bay View for the past 33 months, the Common Council unanimously approved a measure to fund a robotics program where Milwaukee Police Department drones will “swoop in and pick up car vandals, like a hawk hunting a mouse,” said the alderman in a statement released Monday. His district includes Bay View.

Test trials of these sophisticated drones began in December and to date have cost $60,000. The estimated annual cost to implement, operate, and maintain the program is $800,000.

The drones are designed to detect the sounds of auto windshields breaking, the hissing of popped car tires, keys scraping against metal, the spffffffff of aerosol spray paint cans, and the maniacal smirking of no-goodniks.

When a drone’s sensor locks into one (or more) of the audio cues, software kicks in, directing the drone to swoop down and grab the perpetrator with talon-like mechanisms that can grasp and transport a load weighing up to 200 pounds. The drone sends a signal to the 911 emergency system and an MPD officer, using a remote control device, directs the drone to carefully release ‘its prey’ in a designated area.

Early testing identified some problems. Talons, which closely resemble arcade claw machine prongs, were not capable of carrying more than 167 pounds, especially if the test dummy flailed. The talons have since been redesigned. The drones also encountered some problems with real feathered raptors with which they share airspace. One of the test drones was attacked and brought to the ground by a Cooper’s hawk.

Other testing mishaps have included a test drone flying off course, which confused a bee colony in the yard of a private citizen. The colony mistook the drone to be another swarm of bees. They surrounded it and performed a waggle dance. Another drone disrupted a wedding during the best man’s toast, mistaking the sound of clinking glasses with that of a windshield breaking. The drone succeeded in swooping up the best man and carrying him several feet before the error was realized and the shaken
man was released.

“There are still some kinks to work out,” the alderman acknowledged, “but once the program is up and running, I’m confident that it will put a halt to car vandalism.”

The immense drones are expected to be in use by April 1, 2019, and they will be given names such as Hawkeye, Sparky, Accipitridae, and Sam.

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2 Comments on "Airborne Drones To Attack Bay View’s Car Vandalism Epidemic"

  1. Rev Robinson on Sun, 1st Apr 2018 10:20 pm 

    April Fools?

  2. StormyKnight on Tue, 3rd Apr 2018 6:56 am 

    Now THAT’S funny!!!!!

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