China is tightening its public security and surveillance programs by launching bird-like surveillance drones in a number of provinces.

People familiar with the program dubbed as “Dove” told local news outlet South China Morning Post that over 30 military and government agencies have already launched surveillance drones that resemble birds in certain areas of China.

The drones and other related devices were reportedly flown in and around five Chinese provinces these past years.

Unlike regular drones, China’s hi-tech flying machines are small and can hide in plain sight. They are specifically designed to fly by mimicking the flight of a little bird.

The drones are also said to have a wingspan of around 50 centimeters and can operate at a maximum speed of up to 25 mph.

The surveillance drones are equipped with high-definition cameras, flight control systems, GPS antennas, and data links which allow communication via satellite.

Read more: Researchers use bat Biomimicry to fly Drones in the Dark

According to reports, the new drone tech is still in early development stages and is still hindered by strong gust of winds, rain, or snow. It is also vulnerable to electromagnetic disturbances. However, people involved with the project are hoping that it could still be improved in the future.

The drones were developed by a team of researchers from the Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xian. They have already conducted over 2,000 test flights and firmly believe that while the program is not yet widely used, it has enormous potential.

“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,” Yang Wenqing, an associate professor in aeronautics, who is involved with the project said in an interview.

This is not the first time that a country has developed bird-like drones. Back in 2011, the German-based Festo Corporation developed a similar drone they called SmartBird. Another drone was also developed in France, a so-called bionic bird which is currently available for public purchase.

Are you in favor of governments using surveillance drones to spy on people? Why or why not?

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