Tue, 28 Jun 2022

Ireland developing drones to combat sea-based drug smuggling

Robert Besser
19 Jun 2022, 17:45 GMT+10

DUBLIN, Ireland: Drug enforcement officials in Ireland are increasingly turning to drones to assist in patrolling the country's very long coastlines.

Drug smugglers have always had an advantage in exploiting the thousands of kilometers of coastline in Ireland.

However, new generations of drones that exploit artificial intelligence are to be used in a
Guard Project the government adopted last year.

Officials said they have succeeded in bringing together business and university researchers to develop specially produced drones to patrol coastal waters. The drones will be capable of monitoring transfers of drugs between boats, or other suspicious behaviors.

Officials report that Ireland's drone sector and tech companies are preparing specially built drones with AI to detect smuggling in the waters below.

Further, these unmanned aerial vehicles will be able to withstand high winds and rainy weather at sea, fly missions of up to 800 km, and be launched from land or ship.

Ireland has traditionally had difficulty patrolling its over 3,100 km coastline, due to its limited police and naval resources.

Estimates reported by the Guard Project state that fewer than 10 percent of attempts to smuggle narcotics into Ireland are thwarted, as Ireland becomes the gateway for delivering drugs to the European mainland.

Further, drugs remain a significant problem within Ireland, which sees three times the number of drug deaths per capita as in the EU.

Use of AI-equipped drones to combat drug smuggling is one of 29 projects within the "Call of the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund," in which Ireland has set aside $100 million to finance tech startups providing solutions to numerous social problems.

Of note, the U.S. has had success in using drones to monitor and assist in the apprehension of sea-borne narcotics traffickers since 2013.

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