Pic: edu.people.com.cn

China uses drones to catch university entrance exam cheaters

Pic: edu.people.com.cn

Pic: edu.people.com.cn

China has unleashed a new weapon in its bid to crack down on students cheating in the nation’s all-important college entrance exam: a six-propeller drone.

The drone kept tabs on two testing centers in Luoyong city in central China’s Henan province to scan for any unusual signals being sent to devices smuggled by students taking the annual test.

A local news website reported that the students were well behaved Sunday, with no cheaters detected on the first day of the test. Luoyang’s Radio Supervision and Regulation Bureau says the drone cost hundreds of thousands of yuan (tens of thousands of dollars).

Almost all Chinese high school graduates must take the test, and their scores are the key criterion for which tier of university they can enter.

The test, known as ‘gaokao’, is widely viewed as the most stressful and often the most important exam any Chinese student will take. The stress caused by the test is linked with a number of suicides every year as millions sit the exam.

(READ MORE: US charges 15 Chinese nationals over university entrance exam scam)

With so much at stake, it is not surprising that many students turn to cheating to give them an edge. Last year, Kotaku detailed some of the lengths students go to to game the system, including eyeglasses with hidden cameras, high-tech pens, and in ear receivers.

Wired reports that the drone “can search for and identify the location of radio signals, intercepting the cheating students in their tracks. The drone hovers 500 metres above the test site and has a range of around 1km. When it identifies a radio signal, it transmits the location of the signal to tablets used by staff.”

“We advise those  with ulterior motives as early as possible to give up cheating in examinations,” said Zeng Ying Yong, secretary of the Luoyang Radio Authority.

Almost 9.5 million students are sitting the exam this year. Here are some tweeted images from the run-up to the test, which continued Monday.

Additional reporting from Associated Press