The US government is conducting a test to track cars and boats with unmanned balloons flying at high altitudes. The Guardian discovered this in documents from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The test is performed in different states. The unmanned balloons are released in the state of South Dakota, after which they cover hundreds of kilometers at an altitude of 65,000 feet. The balloons fly over parts of South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri.

Along the way, the balloons can identify potential threats and can track targets through the balloons. The balloons are powered by solar cells and are equipped with advanced radar systems to map the environment.

The tests are conducted by the US Southern Command (Southcom), which is part of the US Department of Defense. Southcom had previously done this kind of observation with small aircraft, but the balloons are considerably cheaper and easier to deploy.

This makes large-scale surveillance possible and many more people can be followed.