In a surprising development, a South African state-owned company is planning on buying drones to patrol the country’s borders and shout out warnings at border jumpers.

State-owned company Sentech, which distributes broadcast signals for radio and television hopes to create a 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 that could mean an attempted illegal crossing or other incursions.

The company is not looking at buying drones with weapons platforms, however, although it wants drones which are capable of shouting at the border jumpers and other unwelcome intruders. The company would issue warnings automatically, along the lines of “move away from the boundary, you are entering a restricted area”.

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

Some of those sensors will be on fixed towers between 15 metres and 45 metres high “similar to radio towers”.

“The system should assist with identifying threats faster and allow operating personnel to instantly spot potential threats with confidence,” says Sentech, with tracking of humans, cars, and “other objects”.

Sentech says the system it is planning will “will enable relevant stakeholders to protect our country against trafficking in goods and people, terrorist-related threats, transnational crime, non-legitimate asylum seekers, and illegal immigration,”

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