Several science fiction films feature dystopian nightmare scenarios run by a police state where citizens' every move is closely watched and monitored. China seems to be getting closer to a Big Brother-like state. The Chinese government has now introduced drones that look and behave like birds to monitor crowds.
A report in a Chinese daily- South China Morning Post - details the use of such bird-like drones. These machines record people and watch their every move as they go about their everyday business.
The report speaks of more than 30 government agencies and military agencies using bird-like drones that have started to use this tech for surveillance in at least five provinces in the last few years. The programme is codenamed "Dove" and is reported to be led by Song Bifeng, a professor at Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xian, capital of northwestern China's Shaanxi province.
One of the places where these Dove bird drones are used extensively is the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in western China. This place shares borders with many countries including Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan as well as India.
This region is also known to have a high concentration of Muslims and is seen by the current government as a hotbed for what they are calling "separatist" activity, says the report. As a result, the region is facing a lot of surveillance from Beijing.
In recent times, several reports emerged about the Chinese Muslim population facing persecution at the hands of the government, but it is not clear if the deployment of drones here is in anyway connected.
Yang Wenqing, of the School of Aeronautics at Northwestern, member of Song's team, confirmed the use of bird drones, "The scale is still small," she added.
"We believe the technology has good potential for large-scale use in the future ... it has some unique advantages to meet the demand for drones in the military and civilian sectors," she said.
As too whether these drones have the capacity to fly over the borders undetected and make pictures and collect data about border posts is not known at this time, but the very possibilities makes one shudder- considering the tense relationship that China has with neighbour India.