China has reportedly begun deploying flocks of drones disguised as birds to surveil its citizens. The drones have wings that flap so realistically they’re difficult to distinguish from actual birds. In fact, animals on the ground often can’t make the distinction, and even real birds in the sky sometimes fly alongside the drones. One researcher involved in the project has claimed that the robotic birds can mimic 90 percent of the movements of their biological counterparts, and they’re also very quiet, which helps them avoid detection.
The operation’s codename is “Dove”—but there’s reason to doubt whether these machines come in peace. Yang Wenqing, a member of the team behind Dove, said the technology has “some unique advantages to meet the demand for drones in the military and civilian sectors” and “good potential for large-scale use in the future.”