Skip to main content

Drones now being used to smuggle contraband into prisons

nasa developing traffic management system drones 101 guide

It appears the latest use for robot drones is to smuggle illicit substances into jail: four people have been arrested in Georgia after an attempt to fly tobacco into Calhoun state prison. A similar ruse over the border in Canada has also been reported.

The drone-led plot was foiled after Calhoun prison guards spotted the robotic aircraft hovering over the yard. Local police were alerted and began searching the area, discovering a six-rotor remote-controlled helicopter stashed in a nearby car. Between 1lb and 2lb of tobacco and several mobile phones were also recovered.

Related Videos

The four people arrested on suspicion of attempting to smuggle contraband into the jail could face up to 20 years in prison. “It is a surprise. I’ve never seen a helicopter,” said Sheriff Josh Hilton when interviewed by reporters.

Officers at the Gatineau jail in Quebec were less fortunate in catching the culprits, failing to find either a device or those responsible for piloting it after spotting a miniature aircraft near prison grounds last week.

The versatility of these lightweight aircraft is proving a headache for law enforcers. Drones are being employed to deliver textbooks, medical equipment and even pizzas in various places around the world. For more on the technology, check out our Drones 101 Beginner’s Guide.

“Now that drones are relatively cheap to buy, they’ve become the best way to smuggle drugs inside,” said Stephane Lemaire, president of Quebec’s correctional officers’ union, in an interview with the Ottawa Sun. “Usually the drones are carrying small packages of drugs or other illicit substances.” Lemaire called on the Canadian authorities to do more to boost security at the country’s and negate the threat of drops from remote-controlled aircraft.

Editors' Recommendations

Uber Eats is close to delivering your dinner using a drone
uber eats redesigned app lets you track your order with cute graphics

Along with announcing Uber Cash Monday, Uber shared a few more details about its plans to bring drone delivery to Uber Eats.
Uber unveiled the design for the drones at the Forbes 30 under 30 summit. The drones will have rotating wings with six rotors and will be able to take off and land vertically, Techcrunch reports.
While you might think the drones would be used for long-distance travel, instead they’ll likely be used for more local deliveries, at least for the time being. The drones are expected to have a maximum travel time of eight minutes, including takeoff and landing, and will have a range of 18 miles. For round-trip deliveries, the drones will likely travel 12 miles.
In previous conversations about the project, Uber has suggested that it doesn’t plan to use the drones for an entire restaurant to door delivery and instead plans to use the drones for more of a "last mile” approach. For instance, a restaurant might load up several drones for a delivery area and then those drones will all be launched from a central location to their final stops.
In another scenario, the drones will be deployed from restaurants to parked Uber vehicles that will then be responsible for delivering the food that final mile to its destination.
In July, Uber was conducting tests of the delivery drone in San Diego. Those tests were done from a McDonald’s in the area and were done using an Air Robot AR200 octocopter with a custom-built box for holding the food.
In July, Uber talked about building its own drones for food delivery and said that they could eventually reach speeds of 70mph. It had hoped to have its commercial service set up by this summer, which clearly didn’t pan out.
Earlier this month Wing launched the first drone delivery in the United States. Wing, which is owned by Google, is delivering over-the-counter medication, snacks, and gifts to people in Christiansburg, Virginia. It is working in partnership with Walgreens, FedEx Express and Virginia-based retailer Sugar Magnolia on the project.
In the case of Wing, customers have to opt into receiving deliveries via drone should they want to try the technology out.

Read more
Skydio’s highly autonomous drone now has a robotic charging dock
skydio s highly autonomous drone now has a robotic charging dock 2

The Skydio 2 autonomous drone is a piece of kit that impressed many when it was unveiled recently. Indeed, Digital Trends described it as "definitely one of the most exciting additions to the UAV market" in years.

Smaller and smarter than its predecessor, the team that created Skydio 2 has its eye not only on the consumer market, but enterprise, too.

Read more
Portland burglar allegedly used a drone to aid in after-hours food cart robbery
army use lasers power drones drone getty images

Drones can be used for all manner of applications, from snapping breathtaking photos to racing to inspecting aging infrastructure to … robbing food trucks? While hopefully not the start of a new high-tech crime spree straight out of an episode of Black Mirror, the owners of a pair of food carts in Portland, Oregon recently had their property burglarized by a thief who used a drone to help carry out the alleged crime.

The drone was reportedly employed as a surveillance tool in the robbery of two Piedmont Station food carts, Hapa Howie’s and PDX Dönerländ. The foot cart burglary took place on Tuesday. Hapa Howie’s owner told news station KOIN that, after her cart was burglarized, she checked security footage over the incident. It showed a drone hovering nearby -- including close to the locks -- prior to the suspected thief appearing and going through her cart. The thief stole business checks, tablets, loose change, and more.

Read more