Dubai Customs senior inspection officers Nawaf Saleh and Salim Ghaith explaining how the underwater drone works during UAE Innovates 2022 at Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai Customs has a small ‘submarine’, essentially an underwater drone, that can help inspectors foil smuggling attempts by sea.

The drone, equipped with a high-res 4K camera, can live stream to inspectors sharp visuals of difficult-to-reach areas of vessels, such as the hull.

The remote-controlled drone’s capabilities were discussed during an awareness workshop as part of ‘UAE Innovates 2022’ events hosted by Expo 2020 Dubai. Senior inspection officers Nawaf Saleh and Salim Ghaith introduced the functions of the drone and the means to control it to navigate underwater

Deep dive

The drone can dive up to 98 feet and send back 3D images of the suspected smuggling vessels. The Customs Submarine project is one of the Inspection Division’s initiatives launched in line with Dubai Customs’ strategic plan 2021-2026, which aims to help Dubai Customs “maintain its leading position worldwide”. Dubai Customs was able to successfully make 4,696 seizures in 2021.

Another activity during UAE Innovates was a discussion led Saleh Al Shamsi, head of Aircargo Centres Management, on ‘Customs Dolphins’ and the differences between these and the Customs Submarines. The Customs Dolphins can be sent out to monitor vessels before they enter the wharfage.

Smart surveillance

Another initiative launched by Dubai Customs is the smart electric vehicles, which are used for inspection purposes along Dubai Creek, Deira Wharfage and Al Hamriya Port. Some of these vehicles were customised to accommodate sniffing dogs (K9 Unit). They patrol the area round the clock to detect any illegal shipments along the wharfs “without disturbing visitors of these tourist places”.