AS the country continues to sit on a level four terror alert in the wake of recent attacks in France, Belgium and Germany, Spanish authorities are quietly introducing flying robots to patrol heavily-populated beaches, as the dystopian nature of 2016 shows no sign of slackening.
Tourism appears to be going through a mini-boom in Mediterranean Spain, as jumpy holidaymakers avoid Turkey, Tunisia, Greece and other former hotspots in favour of the relative tranquility of the Iberian Peninsula, although the continental collywobbles have extended this far south, as evidenced by the hysterical reaction to a teenage prank in Catalonia on Tuesday, August 2.
Armed patrols and drones are thus set to be ever more common sights in tourist enclaves throughout the remainder of the summer, with squadrons of Mosses d’Esquadra brandishing submachine guns and assault rifles highly prominent at Catalan resorts such as Floret de Mar and Roses.
Meanwhile, in Benidorm, a drone has been patrolling the local sandy strips since July 1, in a repeat of a pioneering scheme piloted last year, which has now been picked up by other popular resorts, including Torrevieja (Alicante), Marbella and Benalmadena (Malaga), Cartagena (Murcia), Ribadesella (Asturias), and Isla (Cantabria).
Weighing around 2 kilos, the robotic devices can fly for 25 minutes at a time, ascend to a height of 500 metres, and achieve a top speed of 70 kilometres per hour, plus they are equipped with a 4k video camera, GPS, and an automatic ‘return to base’ function should any signal loss occur.
In Benidorm, the drone will fly six times per day throughout August, being piloted by four specially-trained local police officers, although it will not fly above sunbathers on the beach, since the law does not (yet) allow it.
The cutting edge contraptions are currently used for detecting swimmers in distress, vessels in trouble, or signs of wildfires, but officers believe they could be used for ‘additional security purposes,’ whatever that might entail.
Over 18 million tourists visited Spain in the first four months of 2016 alone, representing a 13 per cent increase compared with the same period last year.