Chinese language police foil drone-flying telephone smugglers at Hong Kong border – TechCrunch


Dozens of high-tech telephone smugglers have been apprehended by Chinese language police, who twigged to the scheme to ship refurbished iPhones into the nation from Hong Kong through drone — however not the way in which you would possibly suppose.

China’s Authorized Every day reported the information (and Reuters famous shortly after) following a police press convention; it’s apparently the primary cross-border drone-based smuggling case, so seemingly of appreciable curiosity.

Though the strategies utilized by the smugglers aren’t described, an image emerges from the small print. Critically, along with the drones themselves, which seem like DJI fashions with darkish coverings, police collected some lengthy wires — greater than 600 ft lengthy.

Small packages of 10 or so telephones have been despatched one by one, and it solely took “seconds” to get them over the border. That just about guidelines out flying the drone up and over the border repeatedly — leaving apart that touchdown a drone in pitch darkness on the opposite facet of a border fence (or throughout a physique of water) could be tough to do a few times, not to mention dozens of occasions, the strategy can be inefficient and dangerous.

However actually, the telephones solely have to clear the border impediment. So right here’s what you do:

Ship the drone over as soon as with all cable hooked up. Confederates on the opposite facet connect the cable to a hard and fast level, say 10 or 15 ft off the bottom. Drone flies again unraveling the cable, and lands far onto the Hong Kong facet. Smugglers connect a bundle of 10 telephones to the cable with a carabiner, and the drone flies straight up. When the cable reaches a sure pressure, the bundle slides down the cable, clearing the fence. The drone descends, and also you repeat.

I’ve created a extremely skilled diagram for instance this system (be at liberty to reuse):

It’s not 100 p.c to scale. The far facet may need to be excessive sufficient that the cable doesn’t relaxation on the fence, if there may be one, or to not drag within the water if that’s the case. Undecided about that half.

Anyway, it’s fairly good. You get horizontal transport mainly free of charge, and the drone solely has to do what it does finest: go straight up. Two wires have been discovered, and the police stated as much as 15,000 telephones is perhaps despatched throughout in an evening. Assuming 10 telephones per journey, and say 20 seconds per flight, that works out to 1,800 telephones per hour per drone, which sounds about proper. In all probability this type of factor is underway at quite a lot of locations around the globe.

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