Security drones are to be employed by Polish freight carrier PKP Cargo to help protect goods on the rail network.
Following a successful trial, the drones will now patrol the network full time, manned by a team of trained operators.
PKP Cargo believes the drones have been responsible for a 44 per cent reduction in the number of thefts on the network in the first half of 2015.
PKP Cargo is one of a handful of operators looking at useful applications for drones on the railway.
The drone’s daylight camera can record an incident discretely from up to a kilometre away, and a thermal camera means the unmanned aircraft can be just as effective at night or in bad weather.
Recordings captured by the drones, the largest of which is capable of travelling at speeds of 60 km/h, can then be used by police to prosecute individuals.
Maciej Borecki, director of the safety and audit office within PKP Cargo, said: “We are the first rail transport carrier in Poland, and still one of the few in the world, which uses drones to prevent theft and protect transported goods.
“We are also going to use these machines for other activities, such as checking whether wagons returned by clients have been properly emptied. This will greatly reduce the time needed for such inspections, which are necessary for smooth operation.”