Guarding petroleum pipelines against theft is going high-tech in Querétaro with the deployment of a fleet of drones designed and built by students at the state’s University of Technology.
The first three pipeline surveillance drones are now aiding security and Civil Protection task forces in the Corregidora municipality, located on the Guanajuato border near Apaseo el Alto, an area where illegal pipeline tapping is a recurring crime.
The stolen fuel is sold on the Apaseo-Celaya highway, triggering violent clashes between opposing gangs of huachicoleros, or fuel thieves, in which dozens of people have lost their lives in recent months.
The collaboration of local security forces with the University of Technology resulted in the delivery last week of the three new drones, custom-made for pipeline protection.
The aircraft are equipped with night-vision cameras and have a flight range of 30 to 40 minutes. Each one costs approximately 160,000 pesos (close to US $9,000).
The head of the university explained that it takes up to three months to assemble the drones, which are built to customers’ specifications, making them more specialized than what can be bought off the shelf.
Arturo Vallejo Casanova also said that authorities in Corregidora have shown interest in acquiring two more .
The apparent success of the drones has not gone unnoticed, as companies and organizations in the region have started to request information regarding the custom-made aircraft.
Some want them for security tasks, while others are interested in using them for marketing or recreational purposes, said Vallejo.
Source: Milenio (sp)