Met using DRONES as Speed Cameras?!

Met using DRONES as Speed Cameras?!


Dear All,

The Metropolitan Police have just started testing a flying DRONE speed camera to catch Motorists in London.

They’ll be using the ‘speed camera in the sky’ to “catch dangerous drivers”.

The type of drone the Met is using is manufactured by Canadian company Aeryon. It was designed to be used for tactical surveillance in war zones and disaster response…

According to a customer quote we found online, the drone costs in the region of US$100,000 (approximately £83,000 at the time of writing).

It has night vision and can track the speed of the “target” vehicle, so could technically be used to catch drivers speeding in the city 24 hours per day.

When I first heard that the drone was going to be used as a speed camera I thought “that’s got to be mainstream media hype!” …because in my experience the Police in central London have much more important things to do — i.e. actual Police work! — than to run around persecuting drivers…

I assumed that it was actually going to be used to surveil dangerous criminals and ‘enemy of the state’ types, whether driving or on foot.

However, it appears I was wrong…

Detective Superintendent Andy Cox — head of the Met’s roads and Traffic Policing — confirmed that the purpose of the drone is to target drivers:

“Its aim is to deter dangerous driving and we hope the message of ‘drive lawfully, stay safe and keep a clean licence’ is widely understood.

“However, deterrence is sometimes best achieved through intense enforcement and that’s what this capability enables”.

The Met say it will be used at first to target drivers “endangering others lives”, so I guess they’ll be following their own cars quite a bit then…!

But it seems a good bet to me that — if cost effective — before too long we could see speed camera drones being deployed across the UK.

It reminds me of around 10 years ago when Essex Police tried using helicopters as speed cameras. At first I thought it was a joke, but they did actually try it on the A13 and A127.

I assume they stopped because the cost of operating a helicopter is so high (because of the fuel and maintenance costs), and so it simply wasn’t profitable to target speeding drivers…

The difference here is that drones are NOT expensive to run at all, so could be highly profitable if they are used to issue speeding tickets!

What do you think – am I being paranoid, or do you think Speed Camera Drones will be in widespread use in the next 5 years?

Let other Members know in the comments below!

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All the best,



  1. Rod Tyrrell-Price

    Can’t see that it can get a speed reading that would be enforceable in a court, it would be too unstable and the angle at which it viewed the car would need to be known. Also, very easily taken over by someone jamming the control signal or the video down stream


    I am not sure if this will happen as they can’t stay in the air long enough without a battery charge. However, those like at sports events in wires would be highly profitable. I think these flying ones could only be used effectively to watch a known criminal in action or a getaway vehicle instead of a helicopter and relaying info to the police of it’s route etc. to be any use as a speed camera, it would have to be in the right place at the right time, or just hover in one place for as long as the battery holds out. If anyone knows how long they can fly between battery charges, I would love to know!

  3. Adrian

    In the midlands drones are being shot down by farmers as thieves are using drones to identify farmers equipment tractors auxiliary rollers fence post installers the equipment is identified where it’s located by postcodes using google maps these locations are then been given to thieves who are regularly stealing and the police are too busy to investigate the crimes they give a crime number and don’t even bother to come out to check straight away!
    So it will be interesting if the farmers shoot the police drones down by mistake !

  4. Max Townshend

    Tickets by air are not new. In the late 50s, light planes caught you on the Great Eastern Highway 94, in Western Australia. White lines a mile apart and a cop in the next town.

  5. David L

    I also don’t see how this could be used to catch speeders. It would have to hover at a low height for an angle to record a number plate, in a position where two established distance markers were in view and it would have to be approved for use – like GATSO, TRUVELO and SPECS cameras.

  6. Clive Hyams

    Hi Adam,

    I agree the police should have much better things to do. I believe before long more people will die as a result of being knifed than will die on the road, but will this switch the police priority? Of course not, there is more money in targeting the motorists. If you can’t beat them, then simply don’t speed and all in the world is good.

  7. Dave

    I guess that as the technology improves this may well become the norm. In the meantime if the camera is good enough (at £80K it should be! the length of the car is a known measurement, number plate reading should not be a problem, two photos taken at known interval they can then calculate the speed. Approval would only be a mater of time! Think it is time to get an autonomous car so it can get the tickets!!!

  8. Steve Hirst

    Most of London is a no fly zone for drones due to airports and restrictions
    Looks like more flight delays then

  9. Martin Woodville

    I wonder, used against speeders, this might not (yet) be technically viable, against dangerous drivers, maybe, but that would assume a drone in the right place at the right time for long enough. Of course, if you are driving dangerously, you do deserve to be caught.

  10. Peter Owen

    Oh yes the Police definitely have better things to do with their helicopters and doubtless these drones as well.
    Google Adrian Pogmore – the Heli Cop who was jailed for using the Copter and its high vision camera to zoom in on a naked sunbather. S Yorkshire police are now being sued by said lady.

  11. Fred

    Smacks of another money making racket to pay for the new toy. I concur with other comments that there are better policing ojective to aspire to.

  12. Geoof

    I cannot see these drones being of much use in deterring dangerous driving, as they would probably not be noticed by most drivers (some cannot see the road ahead). I can see the use of them to track dangerous drivers, rather than having high speed chases through the streets, but how long before the police use them to abuse that use [as they undoubtedly will), and re-coup their ” return on Investment [ROI]” and more, by prosecuting normally law abiding drivers who may have fallen foul of some minor motoring law?

  13. Nik

    MMMM £80 grand that’s two bobbies on the beat plus say another £80 grand for maintenance and an operator then another £80 grand for the guys that go over the video and issue tickets. As usual soft targeting. London is full of cctv anyhow and if they cant spot dangerous drivers then what is the point? Revenue generated. I wonder?

  14. Chris Terry

    I get recording a dangerous driver in a built up area – much safer than the current police MO which is to stick a camera car as close as possible to record the evidence.
    Speeding? I dont get… to many variables as others have stated in more detail.

    I am making an assumption that as this is a weaponised drone, its more advanced than the ones we normally see, I also assume it can avoid strings of lights (Oxford st etc)?? Doubt it could be taken down by jamming as this is designed to work in a military environment (or would turning off those systems give longer flight times???)

  15. Martyn

    Maybe they will equip the drones with rockets to take out dangerous drivers.
    I could support that, but not yet more persecution of normally law abiding drivers who stray over an arbitrary and sometimes dangerously low speed limit

  16. Jeremy

    The police will evaluate all available technology it remains to be seen how effective it is in real world situations. Any intended prosecutions have to pass thresholds. The point made about getting accurate speed readings from a moving platform is very valid. We have to accept that drivers are a soft target and a cash cow to be milked, congestion, co2, parking and now speeding.

  17. Walter

    At the risk being coarse!
    Orwell-Flying Pigs- Big Bro.etc. next is Horizontal Reg Plates. on Bonnet,Roof etc. Finally all vehicles fitted with Transponders Ex factory, then GPS will be able to download to Central Speed Control and auto ticket issue.

  18. Martin

    Rubbish fake news, for survallience use and in cases of top end dangerous driving, a cheaper option than a chopper, they have no technology to be used as a speed camera, stick to the truth, more and more rubbish appearing on this site

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