Mystery Drones Have Been Flying Over France's Nuclear Power Plants

By Chris Mills on at

Quadrotors of various shapes and sizes have been flying over some of France's (numerous) nuclear power plants over the course of the past few weeks, causing mild alarm, embarrassment for the Air Force that's supposed to police the air space, as well as a judicial enquiry, Le Monde reports.

Greenpeace — which appears to be France's primary suspect, given the group's history with nuclear power in the country — has denied all involvement, but also makes the excellent point that it's a large-scale operation:

"The overflights in question took place sometimes on the same day at four sites which are far apart from each other. For example at Bugey, Gravelines, Chooz and Nogent-sur-Seine on 19 October - which proves it's a large-scale operation."

This incident, if it does turn out to be more than just innocent hobbyists, does open up a new threat from hobbyist drone users, beyond just interfering with commercial air traffic: using them to recce potential targets for protesters, or, on the extremely speculative end of the spectrum, terrorist groups.

Hopefully, this isolated incident won't cause an over-the-top kneejerk reaction like banning all amateur quadrotors from flying. But it does give one more fairly compelling entry in the pros column for increased regulation. [Le Monde via Ars Technica]