New Zealand: Police use cannabis farm to train with AI drones to spot illegally grown crops

Really, have they nothing better to do with their time?


Police have been using a medicinal cannabis farm to practise using drones using artificial intelligence (AI) to identify illegal marijuana crops elsewhere.

Police said the training exercise, at a South Island farm that had Ministry of Health approval to grow cannabis, was designed to see if cannabis could be “detected by a specialist camera system”.

AI drones were commonly used by police for a wide range of operations, a spokesperson said.

“Police primarily use Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), or drones, for crime scene and road crash photography, and quickly locating people in inaccessible places during search and rescue operations,” the spokesperson said.

“All RPAS include AI features such as object recognition, object tracking and obstacle avoidance to assist with their safe operation.

“Police recently undertook a training exercise with [a South Island cannabis farm], who have approval from the Ministry of Health to grow cannabis, to consider whether cannabis could be detected by a specialist camera system.”

In January 2021, police decided to scrap aerial searches for illegal cannabis plantations, citing a lack of appetite from the leaders of the 12 police districts.

At the time, a police spokesperson told Stuff the decision was made jointly by staff at a national and district level.

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