One of the drones. | Alejandro Sepúlveda

The Guardia Civil's traffic division in Mallorca has two state-of-the-art drones that can fly at 120 metres and are equipped with high-definition cameras. They are watching out for infringements that can incur fines up to 500 euros. When notification of these is sent, a video sequence is included. The same video evidence is available to a patrol if it stops a driver. There is no doubt about the offence.

The two Thyra V109 quadcopters are Spanish-made. At present, explains one of the pilots, Corporal Óscar Gericó, they lack speed measurement systems, so they cannot report speeding offences. But they can detect reckless driving, illegal overtaking, not wearing seat belts, not keeping the correct safety distance from cyclists, and "distracted" driving, such as using a phone.

EVAT air surveillance teams are in charge of operating drones. There are seven teams in Spain; one is based in Palma. They have been given specific training for using the drones, which are transported by van to designated areas. Drivers can sometimes spot the drones. At other times, they have no idea that they are being recorded. Tráfico are happy from them to be detected, given their deterrent effect, and the number of infractions per day is correspondingly low - around a dozen.

Corporal Gericó says that surveillance is mainly carried out above secondary roads and roads with high accident rates. The drones are also being deployed in the Tramuntana Mountains to check on reckless motorcyclists who ride at high speeds and overtake on bends. A complaint by residents and town halls in the mountains is that there isn't sufficient police control. The drones are a way of providing this.