China has reportedly begun deploying flocks of drones disguised as birds to surveil its citizens. The drones have wings that flap so realistically they’re difficult to distinguish from actual birds. In fact, animals on the ground often can’t make the distinction, and even real birds in the sky sometimes fly alongside the drones.
According to the South China Morning Post, these Big Brother-like doves can be found in the skies above the Xinjiang region of northwest China.
The ‘dove drones’ weigh less than half a pound (200 grams) and sport a wingspan of some 20 inches (50 centimetres).
These spy drones can fly at speeds of up to 25 mph (40km/h) for up to 30 minutes.
According to The Atlantic, Dove program’s bird-like drones have been flown over five provinces so far, and it’s perhaps no coincidence that they’ve been used extensively in one area in particular: Xinjiang, a northwestern region heavily populated by Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic minority. The government has long considered the region a breeding ground for separatism and extremism.
Resource-rich Xinjiang, bordering Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Afghanistan, is on the boil for years following unrest among Uyghur Muslims over the increasing settlements of majority Han Chinese from other provinces.