A city in China is turning to the use of drone technology to prevent students from cheating as they participate in the most important academic test of the year.
The National College Entrance Exam known as "gaokao" and more commonly known as "the world's toughest exam," is taken each year by as many as 10 million students throughout China looking for a spot within the higher education system.
A number of studies report the stress from taking the two-day test being so high that it has been linked to student suicide, as university admissions and future careers are almost completely dependent on the results of the exam.. Others are so scared to fail they resort to methods of cheating, using sophisticated methods that authorities cannot always discover. For example, some students wear glasses with cameras in them that show test questions to another individual located outside the exam room, who can look up the answers and give them to the student taking the test through an earpiece.
More pressure is placed on students to do well on the exam, as only 6.5 million admissions are accepted throughout the country, leaving one-third of students without a spot in the higher education system.
In order to better put a stop to the cheating, authorities in Luoyan, 400 miles south of Beijing, have decided to begin using quadcopters to monitor the testing environment. The drones will come with the ability to locate radio signals, which will in turn allow proctors to catch students as they cheat. The machines will fly about 500 meters above the exam room, with the capability of finding radio signals up to 1 kilometer away, writes Trevor Mogg for Digital Trends.
Any signals that are found are relayed to a tablet carried by each proctor. An app specifically designed by the system will then allow the teacher to determine the source of the radio signal.
Previous efforts to curtail students have included the installation of "anti-suicide" barriers in the form of a cage-like apparatus that would prevent students from jumping to their deaths, as well as the banning of bras that have metal clips to put a stop to various cheating technologies.
While the effectiveness of the technology remains unclear, authorities have made the students aware of the technique being introduced this year in the hopes that merely seeing the machines in flight around the test center will be enough to deter students from cheating.