Internet search engine giant Google has plans to use "spy drones" similar to the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) used in military operations for surveillance and bombing to prepare more accurate maps of streets across the globe.
Sven Juerss, the chief executive of Microdrones GmbH, a German firm which builds UAVs, has said that his company has already supplied Google with one aircraft and expects to provide "dozens" more in the future, The Telegraph reported Tuesday.
"The UAVs are well suited to provide more timely recording of the map service Google Earth," Juerss told German business magazine Wirtschaft Woche.
Microdrones sells its UAVs to Merseyside Police, and it is rumoured to have previously sold them to British special forces as well, technology website, The Register, said.
The UAV, known as a "hicam microdrone", is less than 1 metre wide and weighs less than a kg. It has four battery-powered rotors and can stay in the air for more than an hour. It navigates itself automatically and can take high-quality photographs of large areas beneath it.
The Register said the drones would most likely be used for cheap aerial photography.
Google's existing Street View camera, which gather images of the streets while installed on a car, evoked controversy worldwide as various photographs were claimed to invade people's privacy.